If it’s over (and it sure feels like it’s over), the Lovie Smith era is going to be remembered for a Super Bowl appearance, a strange, turnover generating defense, a strange turnover generating offense, and three paltry playoff wins in nine seasons.
Lovie won lots of games, an average of nine per year, and he inherited a truly bad team, and turned it around in short order. Â But like just about every other Bears coach, ever, he tried to win for a long time without a real quarterback, and then when he got one, he employed strange men to call the plays, and mostly mediocre (or worse) players to play with him.
The Bears have, incredibly, missed the playoffs five times in the last six seasons. Â In today’s NFL, that’s nearly impossible, especially when you share a division with the Lions. Â And so, the turn of events that took them from a 7-1 start to a 3-5 finish, not only made the Bears the second team ever to miss the playoffs after winning seven of their first eight, could very well mean the end of the Lovie Smith era.
The seven and one start was a mirage, and we pretty much knew it at the time. Â In those eight games, they only played one good team, the Packers, and got hammered. Â The defense was generating turnovers, and points, at an unsustainable rate. Â Then, Lovie made the tragic strategic blunder of injuring all of his players, and the Bears played the last eight games the way we all thought they’d play the first eight.
Despite wins over two more atrocious teams in the last two weeks, the Bears ten wins weren’t enough. Â The Vikings, of all teams, a team the Bears used as a parachute after being drilled in back to back losses to the Texans and Niners, are going to the playoffs.
It’s not like the Bears are in the midst of a good run of seasons. Â The roster is aging, the offense has three good players on it (you pick who they are, other than Brandon Marshall, they change week to week), there is talent on the offensive line, there isn’t a competent tight end to be seen, and the once mighty defense is still effective, but it’s getting old.
There, quite frankly, is no reason not to start over. Â Start over when your quarterback is still relatively young (he’ll be 30 in April). Â The NFL is a passing league, a memo that the Bears still have not gotten. Â They’re going to need a coach who doesn’t think offense is a rumor.
That’s not to say that I won’t miss Lovie. Â What I like the most about him is the thing that seems to drive most meathead fans (which means most Bears fans in general) nuts. Â I like that he doesn’t lose his mind on the sidelines. Â Call me crazy, but I don’t think a football coach should be running around like a crazy person on the sidelines. Â He’s supposed to be in charge, and nothing says leadership like some assclown jumping up and down and screaming and drooling on himself. Â Lovie always looks cool, and in charge. Â I like that.
I don’t like that in nine years he never learned when to use a timeout, when to use a replay challenge, or that punting from your opponent’s 36 yard line is insanity.
So if his tenure is up, just short of ten years, I’m going to remember the Lovie Smith years pretty fondly. Â And I’m going to delude myself into thinking that whoever they hire to replace him won’t need to change offensive coordinators every goddamned season.