Bears chairman George McCaskey has reiterated what the front office has said since the end of last season about coach Lovie Smith: He has the franchise’s full support. But McCaskey also acknowledged that with only one playoff appearance in the last five seasons, it’s time for Smith to prove that support is justified.
Asked in a Chicago Tribune interview whether the Bears believe Smith is the right guy, McCaskey said, simply, “We do.”
“The players like to play for him,” McCaskey continued. “He’s consistent. He’s fair. He’s tough. He knows how to win.”
The Bears’ faith in Smith was on display from the beginning of their search for a new general manager, when they said they would tell all candidates for the G.M. position that they had to accept the fact that Smith would return for 2012. However, that means the 2012 season is the opportunity Smith will have to demonstrate to new G.M. Phil Emery that he’s the right man for the job. And McCaskey acknowledged that after eight years as the coach of the Bears, Smith will have to prove himself in his ninth year if he wants to make it to a tenth year.
“Lovie will be the first to tell you that everybody in the NFL is there on a prove-it basis,” McCaskey said. “From what I’ve seen, he and Phil are working very well together. We hope that shows in results on the field.”
And if the results don’t show on the field, and if the Bears miss the playoffs for the fifth time in six year, the front office will probably lose its faith in Smith, and Smith will lose his job.