Barring fourth-quarter meltdown, franchise history says Lovie stays
December 11, 2012, 10:12 pm
The key to the future often lies in the past and barring a near epic collapse in multiple “bad” losses, franchise history points to Lovie Smith remaining Bears head coach through the 2013 end of his current contract.
More than missing the playoffs will be required for the Bears to jettison a well-liked coach who began this season 14 games over .500 for his career.
Some sentiment did exist in high places at the end of last season to sever ties with Smith along with general manager Jerry Angelo. The $11 million remaining on the coach’s contract was a tipping point for giving him another year. But it was not the sole reason. Consider:
Dave Wannstedt made the 1994 playoffs, then missed by increasing margins for the next three years. He was then brought back for the 1998 season and when that 4-12 record pushed the playoff-less streak to four, he was dismissed.
Dick Jauron bought himself an extension with a 13-3 mark in 2001. His team collapsed to 4-12 the following years amid a blizzard of injuries (sound familiar?) and Angelo, who had designs on Nick Saban for Jauron’s job, had to wait through a second dismal season before Jauron was out.
Smith missed the playoffs the three years after his 2006 Super Bowl season but managed a near-miss 9-7 season in 2008. The NFC Championship appearance in 2010 was followed by a 7-3 start last season before an injury fest that destroyed that playoff run.
If the Bears happen to miss again, it will in all likelihood still be a winning season, unless the Bears somehow bumble away games with Green Bay, Arizona and Detroit. Even then it would be two seasons without playoffs.
Would the equivalent of playoffs every three years be grounds for firing? Not likely, for an organization that in fact does value character in its field bosses. Michael McCaskey did fire Mike Ditka after one miserable year (1992) following consecutive playoff appearances but that coach-GM relationship was toxic for years.
Smith’s with Phil Emery is not. And Smith has a year on his contract. If Smith can stanch the hemorrhaging vs. Green Bay, or even win the final two, teams seldom fire 10-6 coaches.
, Arizona Cardinals
, Chicago Bears
, Lovie Smith
, Green Bay Packers
, Detroit Lions
, John 'Moon' Mullin
, Phil Emery