NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is reporting the Chicago Bears have fired head coach Lovie Smith.
Smith was as 81-63 in regular season games and 3-3 in the postseason as head coach, but went 1-5 against eventual postseason teams down the stretch. One win is all the Bears needed to get into the playoffs. Instead, they missed it for the second straight season. The only postseason win Smith had since January 2007 was against the 8-9 Seattle Seahawks. Smith talked in his first press conference in 2004 about beating the Packers. They’d lost 6 straight to them.
Of the 12 possible firings today, I felt like Lovie Smith and Pat Shurmur were the ones I’d fire only if I was near certain I could replace them with quality coaches.
The reason I’d be careful is that Lovie Smith (with Rod Marinelli) and Pat Shurmur (with Dick Jauron) had their defenses playing at a high level. Obviously, that hasn’t been enough lately. Yet, with both teams playing hard for their coaches and improving every week, I thought both the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears should make sure that – if they fired their coaches – they wouldn’t replace them with just anybody. Ultimately, the Browns offense will improve by removing vanilla guys like Shurmur and offensive coordinator Brad Childress.
Potential interviews include another former Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, as well as Super Bowl champion and ex-Steelers head coach Bill Cowher, recently-fired Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid, Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien, 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, and Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan (familiar with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler through his dad).
The issue with Jon Gruden – irrespective of how much he’s learned while sitting out – is that he is the anti-Lovie Smith. Lovie was huge on developing trust and getting players to want to play hard for him. Many Buccaneers players were happy to see Gruden leave.
Anyone who thinks Rex Ryan should have been fired must understand that he’s probably going into the same box that Lovie was placed in: New GMs want their own coach. Rex will have to earn it, if he even makes it to February.
There may be interviews for Lovie Smith with other head coaching openings. Lovie Smith is going to make money if he sits out, as all head coaching contracts are guaranteed and he had one year left. DC Rod Marinelli is sure to get another defensive coordinator job, while OC Mike Tice will be a TE, OL, or QB coach somewhere.
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