Lovie Smith-Two Thoughts

I’ve never been a part of the popular “FIRE EVERYONE” crowd.  When Dick Jauron was fired following the 2003 season, my opinion was why fire a coach unless there is a better coach available to hire.  We all saw what happened in January 2004-GM Jerry Angelo practically went on a nationwide tour to find Jauron’s replacement and ended up giving the job to about his fourth choice, Lovie Smith.

Last year I felt the same way about Ron Turner.  That’s fine if they wanted to fire him and his staff, but did they have a better offensive coordinator in mind to hire in his place?  They didn’t, proven by the fact that Mike Martz was again about the fourth choice.  And I thought it was a major cop out since the defense was the team’s problem from 2007-2009, not the offense.  That being said, as of this time of course I’m happy with Martz’ results.

Even before the huge, validating win over the Eagles, I was thinking that with another couple of big wins, I think it’s time for people to put the “Lovie Smith is a terrible coach” line to rest.  I have always thought that winning or losing games is much more a product of the talent on the field than the coaching.

HOWEVER…one thing here does scare me.  We continue to see whisperings in the media that with a couple more wins, the organization is going to look to extend Smith’s contract.  For some reason over the last 10-15 years in the NFL, it has become the trend to never allow a coach to enter the final year of his deal without an extension.

Why is this?  I think it could be a terrible mistake to give Smith another 3, 4, 5 years based on the last four wins.  As we saw from 2007-2009, things can go south quickly and stay that way for a long time.  Then we’ll hear again that Smith can’t be replaced until 2015 or whatever because of his contract.  What the hell would be wrong with making sure Smith and his staff prove that they can sustain the winning?  Do any of you out there refuse to work because you’re in the last year of your contract?  As if any of us have employment contracts anyway, so to me the thought itself is ludicrous.

Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati is in the final year of his deal.  The Bengals won their division in 2009 and turned terrible in one year.  If it happens here….and that’s even IF this season continues to go well, God help us if we’re stuck with the same people for another 4 or 5 years.

10 Responses to “Lovie Smith-Two Thoughts”

  1. I think that if he’s given an extension, they’ll put clauses in it like they did with Peppers. I can’t see them not having an out somehow.

  2. I don’t think a coach’s agent would EVER let any out clauses be put into the contract. It just doesn’t happen for head coaches in the NFL. In ’99, word has it Mike McCaskey wanted Dave McGinnis to sign a deal with an out after 2 years and he refused.

  3. IF Lovie takes us to the playoffs this year – and as you said, IF – then his playoff reaching percentage is 43%, which is quite alright since every year 38% only of the teams (12 out of 28) go to the playoffs.
    I guess they want to sign him before he starts getting too much value (isn’t he one of the lowest paid NFL coaches?). I agree it would be nonsense not to wait for the team to effectively clinch a playoff spot. Thing is, being wise is likely going to cost the McCaskeys.

  4. I agree Roy…if Lovie can put together another winning season next year then by all means sign him to plenty of money since he’ll be well worth the big contract. However I’d hate to be stuck with him if the Bears have a terrible year next year and have to look at 3-4 more years of average football. I really think he’s in desperation mode right now and I like it since it seems to be working.

    One thing I don’t agree with is when you say winning and losing is more about talent than coaching. The players have to be kept motivated and have a sense of belonging to a team that’s “in it to win it” otherwise you’ll just have a bunch of good players that don’t get it done on the field together. I think it’s a balance of good coaching and talent, that’s why the elite teams are good for so long, in my opinion.

  5. Svn, Lovie Smith makes between $5-5.5 million a year, which puts him in the top 5 of coaches salary. If you extend him, you extend him for one season and make him prove he can continue to win.

  6. Whaow, thanks for the update jdm, I was probably stuck in ’05… So the McCaskeys are not so cheap. Is that because he coaches the nickel position too?
    With that salary it should take more than just a playoff spot to extend him. Then I agree with Roy, since his salary could not go up much, let’s wait or give him an extension with a recession-type salary.
    As for player talent, I’d say it is talent that fits the (coach’s) scheme: look at Jennings, Toeaiana and Idonije.

  7. Lovie Smith signed his contract fresh off two straight division titles and a Super Bowl apperance. Also, at the time, there were many long tenured coaches including Mike Holmgram, Tony Dungy, Mike Shannahan, Bill Cowher and John Gruden who were all making lots of money. It also didn’t help Lovie Smith was the lowest paid head coach in the NFL before he signed his new contract. Of course, most of those coaches were also involved in player personnel, which Lovie Smith isn’t officially responsible for (although he has plenty of input, see Adam Archuleta). Now, all those elite coaches are no longer with their respective teasms and only Shannahan is coaching again. Combine that with the economy being weaker, and Lovie Smith is not worth the multiple years. One additional year will be ok by me if the Bears make the playoffs. I never thought Lovie Smith was this terrible/moronic coach, but I don’t think he’s great, either. He’s an average to a slightly above average head coach. Which, pretty much means he can be replaced, but you can do much worse.

  8. Good to see you again JDM! The thing is, I bet there is no way Lovie’s agent would allow him to sign just a one-year extension. No doubt they are pushing hard using the leverage he has right now that could be gone so quickly to get another 4-5 years guaranteed. I will be sick if they give him another $25 million guaranteed right now. Perno, I hear you, but look at this–the Vikings thought Childress was so brilliant they gave him 4 years and $12 million just a year ago. Once his players stopped performing…poof to the “genius.” Thank God I will say that at least we know Lovie Smith is no Brad Childress.

  9. I just hope Lovie learns something from this year. I love how he’s holding players accountable and not letting them play if they can’t get it done on the field. It sounds simple, “let the best players play” but unfortunately contracts, money, and draft position usually allow a big name start over someone more hungry to succeed in the NFL. Not this year!

  10. Agreed Perno. The funny thing is, as I’m sure you’d agree, this is the EXACT OPPOSITE of how Smith handled players from 2007-2009. If he received another 5 years guaranteed, do we think he would coach with the same level of urgency? I’m saying not, because he didn’t when he was in that position before.

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