Remember two months ago when the buzz was that the Chicago Bears were a Super Bowl caliber team?
Yeah, about that…
Another football season in Chicago starts out with high hopes, and yet another football season in Chicago looks to end with the Bears barely making the playoffs (and most likely only to see an early exit), or worse yet another Chicago January sees the Bears watching the play-offs from their living rooms.
This easily could be seen as a damning indictment of head coach Lovie Smith, and in many ways it is exactly that. I’m not a Bears fan, but that doesn’t change the fact that I believe strongly it is time for Lovie Smith to be fired. To be honest, because there’s more than football at stake here. I’ll come back to that later.
To understand why, we first must look at the football options faced by general manager Phil Emery. If there’s a guy in Chicago who should be getting called out, it’ s Lovie Smith. He’s done the least with the most talent of any coach in this league not named Norv Turner, and yet his job never seems to be in danger. From an “on the field” perspective, one can make an argument that a coach who didn’t have his head up his ass could have surely won one and possibly two Super Bowls with the Bears during the Lovie regime, but nobody ever seems to mention that…The Bears would have certainly won the Super Bowl against the Colts if Lovie Smith had pulled Rex Grossman off the field. The Bears lost that game because Rex “Fuck It, I’m Goin’ Deep” couldn’t stop chucking picks; go look at Kyle Orton’s career touchdown-to-interception ratio. Even if Orton was a rookie at that time, there was no reason to stick with Rex after the third INT.
That’s just the first reason why Lovie Smith is the worst head coach in the NFL not named Norv Turner. How bad is Lovie? Let me count the ways:
- The aforementioned six words: Rex Grossman in the Super Bowl
- Smith ran Ron Rivera (a great defensive coordinator) out of town
- Smith brought Mike Martz (megalomanical offensive coordinator) to town
What makes Lovie so terrible as a head coach? After all, he was a respectable defensive coach, so what’s the difference? As a head coach, Lovie defines inflexible. He took a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback in Jay Cutler and stuck him behind an offensive line that allows him to be a skull-fuck target for every third-string linebacker in the league. He tooled an entire offense around the discredited bullshit spewing from Mike Martz. Worse yet, Smith has a management style like all the great dictators; he rules with the classic “iron fist” and gets rid of anybody who doesn’t like it.
That’s not Chicago, that’s North Korea.
But, just like North Korea, the people he gets rid of have talent, but when they don’t kiss Lovie’s ass, out they go. If you doubt that, let’s play a game, shall we? Go back through the last few years of the Smith junta in Chicago and assign games to one of the following categories of what I like to call “Usual Lovie Smith Outcomes.”
- Loss caused by another crucial turnover
- Loss caused by quarterback being turned into a potted plant
- Smith’s inability to manage the clock (raise your hand if you remember Smith on more than one occasion losing a challenge after calling a timeout, thereby burning two time-outs on one play)
- Sticking with an inept game plan when it was clearly a guaranteed loser
- Offense completely stagnates for any number of reasons
- Offensive line play doomed any hope of victory
This bring us squarely to the part that for the life of me, I can’t understand. It’s like Lovie Smith is Stupid Superman in Stupid World, but for some reason Stupid Kryptonite doesn’t kill Stupid Superman. What the hell else does a guy have to do to get fired (feel free to insert another Norv Turner reference here)? Let’s go back to that Super Bowl loss against the Colts. He should have been fired for letting his hatred of Kyle Orton keep him from getting a Super Bowl ring. But that’s not even the biggest reason he should have been pounding the pavement the following Monday. Thanks to Lovie Smith, Tony Dungy was legitimatized with a Super Bowl win, and now all of us are subjected to his bible-thumping, self-righteous assholery.
After all that, let’s come back to the part I do understand all too well. Even after years of such questionable judgement on Smith’s part, as it stands right now, general manager Phil Emery is faced with an all-or-nothing bet. If he fires Smith, he has to eat the remaining year on his contract, not to mention doing the same for the deals on any departing assistants coaches. Since Smith has a year left on his contract, he more than likely has to offer him a contract extension, most likely for two years beyond 2013. There’s a couple of reasons why Emery would be compelled to do so.
First, NFL teams are very averse to having a “lame-duck” coach; the belief is that sort of uncertainty about a coach’s future interferes with hiring assistant coaches who would be skiddish about joining an unstable situation.
The classic case-in-point is the entire Mike Martz fiasco. In 2010, just before Smith contract was extended, the Bears could not hire any less-desperate offensive coaches than Martz, and make no mistake, Martz was desparate to get another NFL job, namely because Martz is an asshole who was discredited years ago
Normally, when you hire somebody, you talk to their former employer. When the Bears were looking for an offensive coordinator, Charlie Armery heard about the Bears’ interest, and since he was Martz’s former boss in St. Louis, Armery was quick to disspell the notion that Jay Cutler may benefit from the “offensive master mind” that is Mike Martz.
“He’s a terrible…coach, and he would ruin that kid like he ruined Kurt Warner and drove him out of St. Louis. He’s the worst thing that could happen to any young quarterback,” Armery said. He later went on to say that it would be an “absolute mistake” for Bears coach Lovie Smith to hire him.
Of course, this guaranteed the Bears hiring Martz. You really had to wonder about this move not only for that reason, but for the fact that Lovie Smith thinks his team “gets off the bus running,” and Martz has a reputation for being a coach who loves to fill the skies with footballs. The blatant truth is that since his early success in St. Louis, Martz can only get hired to second-or-worse rate jobs (San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago), because in the years since working for the Rams, Martz has had exactly zero success, largely because he is an inflexible “smartest guy in the room” type asshole…just like Lovie Smith.
If the Armery’s words weren’t enough of a warning sign, Martz managed to incite a player revolt in Detroit when he refused to entertain changing his unbalanced, pass-happy, and largely unsuccessful approach. That got him fired.
He managed to fall out of favor with 49ers management, including then-head coach Mike Singletary, because he refused even to entertain changing his unbalanced, pass-happy, and largely unsuccessful approach. That got him fired.
Not to mention, on more than one occasion he nearly got his quarterback killed in Chicago because of his refusal even to entertain changing his unbalanced, pass-happy, and largely unsuccessful approach. That finally got him fired as well, but not after the damage was done.
Remember the 2011 game against the Giants? You know, the one where Jay Cutler got sacked about a billion times before New York finally knocked him out of the game by scrambling his brain like a half-dozen truck stop eggs? Remember how Martz kept throwing the ball with a 78-year old Todd Collins at quarterback? Remember how that ended for Collins? He too needed to be sponge-mopped off the field. Martz got so many quarterbacks killed that night I was waiting for the Bears to thaw out Bob Avellini. Again, Martz showed a Smith-like refusal to change his unbalanced, pass-happy, and largely unsuccessful approach, and he should have been fired that night.
To me, that was good enough reason to fire Smith as well, but Emery still has other problems to deal with. The other reason why Emery may extend Smith’s contract is to avoid any “distraction,” the concern being that if you are waffling on whether to fire a coach, every outcome turns into a media-driven referendum on the coach’s future.
Of course, this is a costly and completely gutless way to handle the problem, especially in Smith’s case. Emery reached out to this smug asshole to talk about such an arrangement earlier in the year, only to be rejected because Smith wanted wanted more than a two year extension.
Think about that for a minute. Smith is a guy who not only has never won a goddamn thing, but he’s blown at least one golden opportunity to do so. Despite that, he has the balls to “big-time” his boss. Better yet, Emery approached Smith when the Bears were 7-1 and being discussed for yet another potential Super Bowl run, but since then Chicago has dropped to 8-5 featuring a style of play that makes it all to conceivable they could drop out of the playoff picture entirely.
Here’s the big problem with extending Smith’s deal. It won’t end the speculation about his future, because Lovie Smith is a horse-shit football coach. Even non-horse-shit coaches have to live through speculation about their futures; one of the reasons they get paid big-time cash is for handling that kind of pressure.
The last thing Phil Emery needs to do is marry himself to a multi-year reaffirmation of the same Smith mediocrity. If Lovie Smith thinks he deserves a big-time deal, then maybe he should win a big-time game…you know, something that involves a trophy and a parade.
If the Bears disappoint their fan base yet again, Emery will have carte blanche from that fanbase to put Smith in a raft and nudge him toward the sharks. By then, even the most ardent Smith supporter will have absolutely no choice but to accept a vision which involves the Bears winning a Super Bowl doesn’t include Lovie Smith.
But after all that, Smith still won’t get fired. It begs the question why?
There’s two words to describe why…the “Rooney Rule,” the NFL’s woefully misguided version of “Affirmative Action.” Before you start sharpening your crayon to call me a racist, stop to consider what will happen once Phil Emery fires Lovie Smith.
First of all, there will be a league-mandated charade to make sure at least one black guy who won’t get the job gets his time wasted with a window-dressing interview.
Then, that blowhard piece of shit Jason Whitlock will compare Emery and the NFL to the Ku Klux Klan because that’s what he does. He will wrap himself in that “we don’t have enough black coaches” bullshit all while ignoring that the “Rooney Rule ” has done little more than get us a lot of coaches who suck and don’t get fired because of the ridiculous idea the the NFL needs quotas.
Chew on that for moment. You hear the Whitlocks of the world bitching about numbers of minorities in the coaching ranks, yet you never hear them worried about how bad it looks to keep artificially pumping up bad coaches. Better yet, you never hear their quota argument about other things. You never hear “we need more black punters.”
Sports are the last meritocracy in left the world, and we are trying to fuck that all up for the sake of feeling better about a bunch of shit that happened years before anybody alive today was ever born. And that’s all it is about…feeling like we did something when we did nothing. Fixing problems like this involves more than waving a social engineering “magic wand;” making sure guys get interviewed for jobs they won’t get solves nothing. Instead, you need to make sure they can get those jobs. The best way to do that is to make sure ALL the candidates interviewed are qualified, and the best way to do that is to establish a training program for prospective coaches. You haven’t seen the “Rooney Rule” crowd do that, now have you?
Instead of doing anything substantive, the “Rooney Rule” crowd bitches about the status quo, yet offers nothing in terms of real solutions. Absolutely nothing.
The bottom line: the NFL is full of terrible coaches regardless of color, which also happens to be the worst reason to keep them.