Posts tagged with: Lovie Smith

Bears’ Cutler, Smith munch with Barack

I’m beginning to think that Pres. Barack Obama is enjoying himself a bit too much. I mean, isn’t the economy still in shambles? Isn’t health-insurance reform falling apart? Don’t we still have two wars going on?

Yet our Commander in Chief spends Thursday evening eating dinner with Lovie Smith and Jay Cutler. What gives? Is Obama presenting the two Bears with a new offensive game plan? Maybe he wanted to press Smith to find a wide receiver or two?

You can read about the big event here, in this story by the Chicago Tribune’s Fred Mitchell. And if you didn’t get invited to the big dinner, don’t sweat it. You know what an awful conversationalist Lovie Smith is.

Which Bear has the most to prove this year? Urlacher

There are a lot of Bears that have something to prove this year.

Devin Hester has to prove he’s a number-one receiver. Jay Cutler has to prove he’s ready to be a leader. Rashied Davis has to prove he can actually catch the ball.

And then there’s Brian Urlacher. Remember when he was one of the most feared defensive players in the league? Well, those days are gone. Injuries have made sure that Urlacher will never again be that dynamo that caused opposing offensive coordinators so many headaches. But that doesn’t mean that Urlacher can’t still be a force on the field.

He’ll just have to do it in a different way.

Urlacher has always had trouble shedding blockers. Hopefully, Lovie Smith will use Urlacher’s speed. He sitll has that. And he can still use that to disrupt passing plays and chase down running backs, if Smith figures out a way to get him away from big, meaty blockers.

If Urlacher has an outstanding season, so will the Bears’ defense. If he struggles again, expect the defense to give up its share of long drives and points this season.

Is Smith the 20th best NFL head coach?

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.

When will the calls for a “screamer” coach begin?

It’s happened every year since Mike Ditka was fired. So you know it’ll happen again during the Bears’ 2009 season: The calls will come in to local sports talk stations that the Bears need to hire a coach who screams, yells, swears and kicks things at his players.

People here still love Mike Ditka. Yes, the coach did win a Super Bowl. But he also squandered more talent than any Bears coach I can remember. All those regular-season wins were fun. But what about the playoffs? If you don’t count the 1985 Super Bowl year, Ditka put together a 3-6 record in the playoffs.

But still people pine for him. And every time the Bears of today lose a game, a certain portion of the fan base blames the fact that head coach Lovie Smith doesn’t scream or stomp his feet on the sidelines.

Now, I don’t think Smith is a great football coach. I think the Bears are often too predictable, too safe. But I don’t think it’s because he’s not emotional enough on the sideline. I actually like a head coach who treats his players like adults.

I never thought screaming into someone’s face was a good way to motivate a person. To me, it just makes the screamer look like an ass.

Running game the key to this Bears season?

If you’ve never visited Da’ Bears Blog, make sure you do so. It’s a fun blog to read. Even better, it makes you think. (Not that we should ever think too much about football.)

Anyway, in this recent post, one of the blog’s writers says that though new quarterback Jay Cutler is receiving most of the attention, the real key to the upcoming Bears season is the running game.

The post cites some strong evidence for this belief. In the Bears’ 2006 Superbowl season, the team had only three games with under 100 yards rushing. This is a big reason it won 13 games that year.

In 2008, though, the team had a whopping 10 games where it didn’t rush for 100 yards. It finished with a lucky nine wins. (That stat is a little surprising considering the success of Matt Forte last year. He did, though, tail off significantly at the end of the season.) In 2007, when the Bears won only seven times, they had 12 games where they didn’t manage 100 yards rushing.

Lovie Smith likes to say that the Bears are a running team. But too often, they aren’t. And when they’re not, they lose.

Check out the post at Da’ Bears Blog, and be sure to read the long, long list of comments under it. You just might learn something.