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As Bears go cold, Lovie Smith’s seat is getting hot

Lovie Smith AP

Five weeks ago, the idea that Lovie Smith was in danger of losing his job would have sounded absurd. The Bears were 7-1, coming off a 51-20 blowout win in Tennessee, and widely regarded as one of the best teams in the NFL.

But with the Bears having lost four of five games since then, and with a tough game coming up on Sunday against the Packers, there’s talk in Chicago that Smith is on the hot seat.

Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times has a column in today’s paper suggesting that Smith’s days are numbered, while Tom Waddle, a former Bears receiver who is now a sports radio host in Chicago, said this morning on NFL Network that Smith may need not just to get to the playoffs but to win a playoff game in order to save his job.

“I think he’s on the hot seat now,” Waddle said. “It’s a bottom line business, and as of right now they’ve missed the postseason four of the last five years. If they make it five out of six, they’ve got a new general manager in place who has the autonomy to make the decision on the coaching position. I think in fact if they don’t get to the postseason, it’s very likely you will see a coaching change. And if they limp to the postseason and one and done, I still think it’s a possibility that Phil Emery, the new G.M., will make a change.”

Frustrations are clearly mounting in Chicago: I live in Chicago, and if the Bears fans I talked to at my wife’s office holiday party last night are a representative sample, then the Bears’ paying customers overwhelmingly want Smith out. The good news for Smith is that the Bears likely only have to win two of their last three to make the playoffs, and after the Packers they get the Cardinals and Lions. So Smith is likely to take the Bears to the postseason, and to keep his job. Barely.

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57 Responses to “As Bears go cold, Lovie Smith’s seat is getting hot”
  1. thehatefulnerd says: Dec 12, 2012 11:34 AM

    Lovey’s been buying time for years, bringing in free agents like Julius Peppers and Jay Cutler to try and save his job from year to year.

    As a Packers fan, I respect him tremendously as a coach. I just think that overall, we have a better organization right now.

  2. shlort says: Dec 12, 2012 11:39 AM

    Coach Smith is one of the best coaches to ever lead the Bears. His teams are consistent and have been since he got them back in annual contention.

    If Pete Carroll can keep a NFL HC gig, Lovie should have no problem finding work in the league. I think the Bears organization would be wise to keep Lovie around for awhile. He does a great job considering the way the league is these days.

  3. stoogy says: Dec 12, 2012 11:40 AM

    The question is will they try to rebuilt this team with him or with out him. All the playmakers are old and the team needs new young guys to start making plays. Might take a few years. So will they let Lovie go though this process with patients or cut ties and start with a new coach?

  4. pkrjones says: Dec 12, 2012 11:40 AM

    When he signed on in ’04 a main goal was to beat the Packers. 7 of the next 10 games against GB he succeeded. Since 2009, the Bears are 1-7 (1-8 after Sunday), so obviously the “magic” has worn off and the ridiculous trades and coaching hires are killing them.

    Time to wipe the slate clean and start over, Monsters ~ Green Bay needs the Divisional competition as the Vikes and Lions continue to implode.

  5. samurai3939 says: Dec 12, 2012 11:46 AM

    If he was the one who put that awful Oline together, he had to go. If he had no say, he should stay. The line is the number one reason they aren’t going to win the sb.

  6. freebird2011 says: Dec 12, 2012 11:46 AM

    The Lions will be glad to return the favor the Chicago fans for what happened in 1999, i.e. Edinger’s last second FG which cost the Lions a playoff spot, Gary Moeller his head coaching job, and ushered in the Matt Millen era.

  7. lrt79 says: Dec 12, 2012 11:46 AM

    I’m a diehard Bears fan, and I can say this with total conviction: The worst part about being a Bears fan is having to deal with and be associated with other Bears fans.

    Biggest group of meatball fans on the planet.

  8. greymares says: Dec 12, 2012 11:47 AM

    the fact that the media and fans of 6 or 7 teams are reporting/demanding that their coaches be fired is proof enough that it’s not the coaches. It’s all about the players and the ability of the players to form a cohesive chemistry,avoid serious injury and sacrifice personal goals for team goals. Smith, Reid, Turner, Rivera, Whisenhut, Garrett Shurmer, Gailey and whoever are good football coaches and have not forgotten how to coach. remember just a short time ago the media/fans of Coughlin, Shanahan and Kubiak were calling for them to be fired also

  9. lightcleric says: Dec 12, 2012 11:47 AM

    Unless you can pin that absolutely horrendous offensive line on Lovie I don’t think he can really be blamed there. They have the worst O-line outside of Arizona and they don’t have a quarterback to protect in the first place.

  10. geniusesq says: Dec 12, 2012 11:48 AM

    Lovie doesn’t play offensive line.

  11. freebird2011 says: Dec 12, 2012 11:48 AM

    Sorry, I meant 2000, not 1999.

  12. beardown1313 says: Dec 12, 2012 11:50 AM

    It would be so Bears to actually beat Green Bay this week and save Lovie’s job to the detriment of the long term needs of this organization. Anyone remember Lovie’s pointless “1-0 in 2012″ victory at Minnesota last year that cost them about 9 slots in draft position? Same deal if they beat Green Bay and go on to make the playoffs, Lovie gets an extension and his band of misfit assistant coaches and coordinators get to confuse us with their play calling for years to come.

  13. ducknichols50 says: Dec 12, 2012 11:51 AM

    its not lovie’s fault the organization continues to be inept when it comes to putting even an average offensive line on the field.

  14. lrt79 says: Dec 12, 2012 11:54 AM

    Also, Lovie should be able to finish out his contract next season.

    The defense has been great, though injuries have slowed them down. The offense, however, is still technically in it’s first year: new GM, new OC, new QBC, new OLC, new WRs, new RB. Too many new components for it to start working like a charm immediately.

    Give them one more year. If he can’t get it all done, then Lovie can go (probably with Urlacher and Peppers in tow).

  15. raiderlyfe510 says: Dec 12, 2012 11:58 AM

    What’s happens to all Head Coaches who fire Mike Martz? The same thing that happens to Head Coaches who hire Greg Knapp as OC…They get fired.

  16. edavidberg says: Dec 12, 2012 12:08 PM

    Biggest issue with Lovie is he could never get a decent OC to work with him. Some of that is not his fault, but ultimately he’s the one responsible.

    Lovie is tremendous with the defense and in motivating players but enough is enough. The results have not been good enough and the Bears have wasted the primes of two or three hall of famers in Briggs, Urlacher and Tillman.

    At this point you can’t keep him though because no offensive coordinator wanted to go to the Bears last year, no reason for that to change next year with him on a shorter leash.

    You have to question also why Smith wasn’t jumping up and down three years ago when Angelo was busy not drafting offensive linemen despite having a horrible line. Angelo was largely incompetent but Smith should have been begging for o linemen and wide outs. Most fans were.

  17. wludford says: Dec 12, 2012 12:09 PM

    I don’t think the Bears’ biggest problem is Lovie Smith. Here’s few bigger ones:

    1. Mike Tice. He’s not OC material. Never has been, never will be. I have no idea why Chicago elevated him from OL coach- even that was more than he could handle. If I were the Bears, I’d be on the phone with Norv Turner, and offer him Tice’s job if/when he’s fired from SD.

    2. Offense outside of Brandon Marshall. Offensive line needs more talent, skill position players (except Marshall) have all underperformed this year. That need’s to be addressed. I think you have to stay with Cutler, knowing he probably won’t make it through a whole season without missing some games, and focus on making improvements elsewhere.

    3. Defense is old, needs new blood. They get tired/injured as the year goes on, and performance goes downhill when they need it most. While I’d take an OT in the first round of the draft, I’d use the next 2-3 rounds on defense.

    In free-agency, I’d look to upgrade TE. That could definitely help the Bears offense, along with better production from Forte and Jeffries.

  18. jagsfan1 says: Dec 12, 2012 12:14 PM

    There are alot of bad head coaches out there…but aside from injuries – it does not help to have Aaron Rogers in your division. Peyton Manning kept every other team in his division unable to unseat the Colts almost the entire time he was in Indy.
    I am sure it goes beyond that for the Bears – but having to deal w/ Rogers does not help one bit.

  19. hyzers says: Dec 12, 2012 12:18 PM

    As a Lions fan, the season could be salvaged by knocking the Bears out of post season contention by beating them in week 17. CAN’T WAIT!

  20. pencilmonkeymagic says: Dec 12, 2012 12:31 PM

    They’ve had to play decent opposition recently, that’s why they’ve come unstuck.

  21. tharoostah says: Dec 12, 2012 12:35 PM

    Lovie Smith is great motivator, and he’s a good defensive coordinator when he has the right personnel. Players like Lovie Smith and play extremely hard for him. But he is not a good head coach. He is an atrocious talent evaluator and while lousy GMs have been a problem, Lovie has had ALOT of input over the years. Take a look at the stars of the team Marshall, Cutler, & Peppers are all free agent acquisitions while Urlacher, Briggs, and Tillman were all drafted pre Lovie. You will never see the Bears win a game because Lovie out schemed an opposing team. You will never see Lovie make half time or any in game adjustments for that matter to counteract an opposing teams strategy or attack another team’s weakness. They simply line up and play Lovies brand of football, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. He also is really bad at hiring assistant coaches and in particular offensive coordinators. He simply keeps going back to the well and hiring retread guys who he’s worked with previously. He has got to go

  22. purpleguy says: Dec 12, 2012 12:36 PM

    From an opposing NFCN fan’s point of view, for what it’s worth, which ain’t much, I’d say the issue is more with the OC set-up than with the HC. That combo of Tice (who’s never coordinated before and can’t make quick adjustments) and a passing coordinator (whoever that guy is) was doomed from the start.

  23. blackandbluedivision says: Dec 12, 2012 12:36 PM

    I’m tired of it. The whole Bears mentality is old and tired. They’ve been the same since Lovie was hired. Different quarterback, running backs, receivers, same scheme, same results. The Bears don’t scare anybody and I’m tired of complaining about the same thing. I’m sorry, even if they make it to the playoffs, they’re one and done.

    Lovie is a great defense coordinator but not a great Head Coach. The D has always been the focus of this team and the offense has always struggled.

  24. seattle2toronto12thmanconnection says: Dec 12, 2012 12:37 PM

    Shlort – “If Pete Carroll can keep a NFL HC gig, Lovie should have no problem finding work in the league.”

    You mean Pete Carrol the HC who has beat the Bears in Chicago in the regular season the last three years in a row? Typical Bears fan. Open their mouths only to shove in food and make unintelligent comments about football. Feel bad for the part of the fanbase that isn’t completely ignorant. Idiots like you make them look bad.

  25. wearewhowethoughtwewere says: Dec 12, 2012 12:37 PM

    This is a bottom line business. And the fact remains, like the Cubs, the Bears have no problem selling out home games no matter what product they put on the field.

    The McCaskey’s are too cheap to pull the trigger on this. So they fire Lovie. Then what do they do? They’re not going to hire a proven coach, the Bears only hire former coordinators. So then you have a former coordinator in the head coaching gig, and that’s going to take years to get accustomed to.

  26. richardmb52 says: Dec 12, 2012 12:39 PM

    He has a simplistic defence, and a vanalla offence. He also has no offensive line. and a ageing defence. He’s one of the big problem’s but not the only one. Every one step back and watch the bottom drop out.

  27. bathroomben7 says: Dec 12, 2012 12:39 PM

    I don’t really think Lovie is causing any of the problems; if anyone needs to be replaced its those two washout coordinators who have never stepped up at the NFL level. That and Jerry Angelo drafting offensive lineman worse than Robert Gallery every year.

  28. beardown1313 says: Dec 12, 2012 12:41 PM

    In response to lrt79:

    While the term meatball does often apply to bears fans, in this situation it does not. The vast majority of bears fans are tired of the lack of production over the last decade doesnt mean we’re meatballs. The goal is to win championships. Allowing one head coach to lead a heritage NFL franchise in the 2nd largest NFL market to playoff appearances 3 out of 10 years is NOT acceptable. I question how die-hard you are if you’re happy with the status-quo and arent able to see what’s going on every sunday.

  29. blackandbluedivision says: Dec 12, 2012 12:48 PM

    hyzers says:
    Dec 12, 2012 12:18 PM
    As a Lions fan, the season could be salvaged by knocking the Bears out of post season contention by beating them in week 17. CAN’T WAIT!
    ______________________________

    So…that would probably put you at 5-11. Lions fans are a very strange bunch. They’re about as selfish as their stat-loving football team.

  30. razsan says: Dec 12, 2012 12:50 PM

    The Lions IN Detroit with nothing to play for will be dangerous for the Bears. I see the Cardinal game as the only “gimme”

  31. Nevis says: Dec 12, 2012 1:02 PM

    He should have been fired years ago.

  32. punkyqb says: Dec 12, 2012 1:10 PM

    I see some of the Detroit fans “Superbowl” is trying to knock some other team out of the playoffs. That happens when your team has been one of the worst in the NFL for the last 20 years, that’s the most you can expect.

  33. cosmicduster says: Dec 12, 2012 1:12 PM

    I love the Lions fans who are treating the upcoming Bears game as their Super Bowl. No real Bears fans want to see this lame team squeak into the playoffs as they simply aren’t capable of beating a playoff team. The Bears need a catalyst for change.

  34. tonyarnold2 says: Dec 12, 2012 1:14 PM

    ha…. NFC

  35. muskyhunter2542 says: Dec 12, 2012 1:17 PM

    All I can say is look no further then what Green Bay did. They drafted all defense and most of those players are contributing this year. The Packers will have a lot of young studs on defense now for years to come.
    No The Packers need to use that same draft idea with the offensive line.

  36. InFact says: Dec 12, 2012 1:18 PM

    What about Lovie’s periodic game management and clock management mistakes?

  37. chris6523 says: Dec 12, 2012 1:20 PM

    My take on Lovie Smith is that it seems the Bears have trouble putting together a full season. The year they went to the Super Bowl, the looked like a legendary team for the first half of the season, but were simply ok the second half. They made the Super Bowl because they were at home and played a couple teams that were just ok (Dallas and the saints if I recall correctly).

    This year’s Bears team were so dependent on the defense not just stopping the other team, but also scoring points on their own that it was pretty obvious that sooner or later their opponents were going to be much more ball security aware.

    Whether Lovie is really in danger or not is hard to tell. If they don’t make the playoffs, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is fired. The Bears could end up with far worse, though.

  38. howiehandles says: Dec 12, 2012 1:21 PM

    “As a Packers fan, I respect him tremendously as a coach. I just think that overall, we have a better organization right now.”

    As a Bear’s fan, I think most (except the meat ball fans) would readily admit that.

    While I’m one for change, Lovie’s biggest problem has been the poor drafts for the past 10 years, outside of perhaps one season.

    “Biggest group of meatball fans on the planet.”

    Every team has them. The only difference being, teams like the Steelers, Bears, Packers, Pats, Giants, etc, have such huge followings, that their going to have more of the clowns than Bucs, Panther, and Jaguar fans.

    I am cautiously optimistic about Emery, although I didn’t, and still don’t agree with Shea as his first round pick. The Bears could do much worse than Lovie, and they could also do better.

  39. jbaxt says: Dec 12, 2012 1:21 PM

    If Lovie’s seat is on fire, is Crennel’s on molten lava? 2-11, Fire Pioli ASAP.

  40. fnc111 says: Dec 12, 2012 1:24 PM

    I don’t quite get the last bit of the article. The Bears will lose to Detroit and Green Bay which leaves them 8-8. Not 10-6. Bye bye Lovie .

  41. kenstabler says: Dec 12, 2012 1:26 PM

    I’ve never thought much of him as a head coach, kinda like Norv Turner. A great mind on one side of the ball, but not a head coach. His players have to step up for him in these last games, or they have lost faith too.

  42. crazycane says: Dec 12, 2012 1:36 PM

    So it’s all Angelo’s fault last year but isn’t Lovies fault this year? Bear fans need to learn to let go. The D is getting old just like the scheme, Lovie has beaten ONE team with a winning record on the road since 2008 and that’s this year vs the Cowboys so it’s still up in the air. Lovie is a mediocre HC just like our football team.

    Lovie has also been in charge of finding the right OC and he’s on Tice now who is probably one step below Schoop. For YEARS draft picks have been wasted or never developed only to see them go to other teams and produce.

    Let go Bear fans. 2006 Super Bowl expired a long time ago….

  43. rayburns says: Dec 12, 2012 1:58 PM

    If Norv Turner still has a job… no one in the NFL should be worried about job security…

    just sayin’

  44. ebbycalvinlaloosh says: Dec 12, 2012 2:00 PM

    Getting some real leaders on the offensive side of the ball would help. If your team is looking to Cutler and Marshall to lead your troops to battle, you are in big trouble. It wouldn’t matter if Vince Lombardi was coaching the team.

  45. thevza says: Dec 12, 2012 2:03 PM

    I’ve been a die hard Bear fan all my life, and I can say that I have been calling out all of Lovie’s flaws year in and year out: Lack of in-game adjustment, horrible clock management, reckless challenging of plays, etc. However, the defense has NOT been the unit holding this team back over the years. Sure they get torched every now and then in a big game, but the level of play for the most part over the past 5 years has been good enough.
    The problem is that he has handed over the keys to the offense to the wrong people. And prior to 2012, worked for a horrible GM. Now, I’m not absolving Lovie of any blame, because a better coach would have made smarter decisions along the way. But at this point, he’s had his shot. 8 years is a long run in today’s NFL, and it’s time to trust Phil Emery to find a new head coach. Only caveat there is that I would hope Lovie would not be released without a chosen replacement in mind, or else the Bears would do what they always do and settle for whomever is available at the time.

  46. bearsfankarnik87 says: Dec 12, 2012 2:34 PM

    “They’re not going to hire a proven coach, the Bears only hire former coordinators.”
    —————————————————-

    You’re right, guys like Mike McCarthy, John Harbaugh, and Sean Payton should never have been considered by their teams because they were only coordinators, never head coaches….

    This season marks two consecutive seasons of starting 7-3 and failing to make the playoffs (I don’t see us making the playoffs at 10-6, I see potential tie-breakers being our downfall). That can’t be accepted. I’m a big Lovie supporter. I like him and think he’s a terrific coach, but this is two years in a row of falling apart in the second half of the season. Last year had the built in excuse of Jay being hurt (legitimate excuse but still an excuse) but no such excuse exists for this year. He has to be let go after this year. I wish Lovie the best of success as a DC or as a college HC but he’s got to go.

  47. asst2regionalmgr says: Dec 12, 2012 2:43 PM

    Many are stating that Lovie did not build the offensive line. It wasnt the offensive line that made it possible for Adrian Peterson to carve us up in the first quarter last week. There is plenty of blame to go around. The base cover 2 has its place in the game, but with the change in how tight ends are used now and Urlachers range, adjustments need to be made. Also, it seems that thoughout Lovie’s tenure in general we have won the games we should win, but rarely won a game we were not expected to win. Thats on Lovie. As a Bears fan I would like to see the franchise continue to adapt to the modern style and go with an offensive oriented coach and roster. Can’t model your franchise after the 2001 Ravens.

  48. tdrundmc says: Dec 12, 2012 2:46 PM

    Lovie isn’t the problem. Take a closer look at dumb and dumber(Tice and Marinelli).

  49. tucostacos says: Dec 12, 2012 3:08 PM

    Love Reid has to go!

    For all of the chuckleheads saying it’s the OC’s fault? Who hired the OC? The buck stops at Lovie, time for a change.

  50. larryboodry says: Dec 12, 2012 3:19 PM

    lrt79 says: Dec 12, 2012 11:46 AM

    “I’m a diehard Bears fan, and I can say this with total conviction: The worst part about being a Bears fan is having to deal with and be associated with other Bears fans.

    Biggest group of meatball fans on the planet.”

    Nice to meet you, too.

  51. filthymcnasty1 says: Dec 12, 2012 3:23 PM

    Whatever Lovie is doing, feel free to keep it up!

    ~Your green and gold friends to the North~

  52. ronin36 says: Dec 12, 2012 4:41 PM

    There’s lots of things that conspired against Lovie.

    1. The trade for Cutler, hampered draft options.
    2. He had to hire OCs when his own long-term job security was at risk. Martz, I’m sure, was the umpteenth choice, but willing to take the job. Tice, this year.. probably the same.
    3. Bad drafts.. in general.. haven’t helped either.

    I think.. if they were to get a good OC (Norv Turner) and a few good drafts… on both side of the ball.. they could be very, very dangerous.

    It’s been a downward spiral for more than a few years now…

  53. axespray says: Dec 12, 2012 5:34 PM

    I say give him another year – you finally get him a GM that knows what he’s doing – let the GM load up on draft picks and rebuild the team – if Lovie’s team fails down the stretch again, fire him.

  54. gbmickey says: Dec 12, 2012 8:36 PM

    Panic seems to be setting in in Bear country. Makes me smile just a little.

    How do you feel chitown? You usually have a lot to say.

  55. 4ever85 (aka Butch DeadLift) says: Dec 12, 2012 8:42 PM

    If you want a team who will beat bad teams most of the time (Panthers, Lions, Jags, etc), beat potential wild card teams often though not always (Colts, Cowboys) and lose to elite teams (Packers, Texans, 9ers) then Lovie is your man.

    “Smith has gone 49-15 vs. teams with losing records in his career (a .765 winning percentage) and 11-8 vs. teams with .500 records (.579). He has also posted a 19-38 mark against teams with winning records (.333).”

    How many times will fans scapegoat the O.C. before realizing that the problem has been Lovie all along?

  56. filthymcnasty1 says: Dec 12, 2012 8:50 PM

    gbmickey says: Dec 12, 2012 8:36 PM

    “Panic seems to be setting in in Bear country. Makes me smile just a little.

    How do you feel chitown? You usually have a lot to say”

    You’re that guy that wanted Ted fired.

  57. rajbais says: Dec 12, 2012 9:27 PM

    New Rule:

    It’s okay to fire coaches after they look like winners.

    Teams do not win Super Bowls because their coach just might not be good enough!!!

    Teams who fired “contenders” and hired “champs”:

    -The Pats fired Pete Carroll and hired Bill Belichick.
    -The Broncos fired Wade Phillips and hired Mike Shanahan.
    -The Cowboys fired Jim Fassel and hired Tom Coughlin.

    Three commonalities:
    They were fit for the franchises because of their prior connections to the team, had head coaching experience, and showed glimpses of greatness while in prior jobs.

    Bottom line: Contending coaches don’t always have to stay because not all contenders really have a chance.

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