The Sporting News doesn’t seem to be much of a friend of the Chicago Bears. Remember that list of most overrated NFL players that prominently featured Brian Urlacher? Now the magazine has gone after head coach Lovie Smith.
The Sporting News recently ranked Smith as the 20th best current NFL head coach. For those not good at math, being 20th best isn’t all that good.
The Tribune’s David Haugh took issue with this ranking.
The Sporting News ranked the hideous Bill Belicheck of the New England Patriots as the top head coach. You can’t argue with that, I suppose. Next comes the equally hideous Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants, Andy Reid of the Philadelphia Eagles (very fat, yes, but not hideous in the way that Coughlin and Bellicheck, both giant A-holes of men, are), Jeff Fisher from the Tennessee Titans and Mike Tomlin from the defending champion Steelers.
That’s a good list of coaches. Haugh, though, isn’t happy that Sean Payton of the Saints is ranked sixth. It’s easy to see why. Payton’s record with the Saints is a mediocre 26-24. Smith, by comparison, is 47-37 with two NFC North titles and an NFC championship.
That record might be considered a bit of a miracle if you lived through the horror of the Jauron and Wannstedt days.
Still, there’s something about Smith. He seems to have trouble managing close games, and often makes some rather dubious decisions. Remember that playoff game against the Seahawks during the Bears’ most recent Superbowl season? With time running down for the game, Smith called what I still consider the oddest timeout in Bears history, a timeout that almost let the Seahawks tie up a three-point game.
Haugh is probably right. Smith is probably not the 20th best head coach in the game. But there are enough holes in Smith’s coaching career to make the Sporting News’ ranking not an entirely shocking one.