Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris says he and his teammates need to get to the playoffs not just for themselves, but for coach Lovie Smith — who, according to Harris, has been so good to the players that they must repay him by playing well.
“We owe it to him,” Harris said Monday. “That guy has been great to us from training camps to what he’s done with the facilities. Different things that you see other coaches really don’t care about, but this guy has come in and helped us out tremendously, and we owe it back to him.”
It’s a little surprising that Harris, of all players, would be the one who would step forward and speak up on Smith’s behalf. It was just three weeks ago that Harris was an unhappy camper, publicly criticizing the team for keeping him inactive for the game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
It’s also interesting that Harris thinks a coach having “been great to us” is a reason that coach should keep his job. Ultimately, a coach isn’t judged by whether his players like him; he’s judged by whether his players win. A critic of Smith’s could just as easily point to that “great to us” comment and say it’s evidence that the Bears need someone who’s less a players’ coach and more of a taskmaster.
Whatever the case, maybe it was Harris and other Bears players whom Charley Casserly of CBS was referring to when he said the Bears are 100 percent committed to Smith. But just because the players like Smith, that doesn’t mean his job is safe, and Harris seemed to realize that the Bears, at 4-5, need to turn the season around.
“Now, the back is on our walls,” Harris said. “I mean the wall is on our backs. So we really have to do something now.”
No matter where the Bears’ backs are relative to their walls, it’s time for them to start winning soon, or else Smith will be out of a job, no matter how great to his players he is.