Lovie On the Rocks

| September 14th, 2010

I don’t know how to write about Lovie Smith anymore.  But I keep trying.  I don’t know if I’m allowed to criticize his scheming on the Calvin Johnson fake touchdown without crediting him for a series of perfectly-designed blitzes throughout the game.  (Both Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs were untouched on stunts.)  I don’t know if I should continue harping on the fact that he’s ruined Devin Hester’s football career or salute him for what’s looking like the brilliant hiring of Mike Martz.  I don’t know what to say about Lovie…until he speaks.  Because when he speaks, in this case about the fourth-and-one go for it, he says things like this:

“Nothing has changed,” Smith said. “I went for it because I thought we could get it. Wanted the offense to see that I thought that. Felt good about it going for it then. And feel good about it now. In those situations, probably will do the same thing again.”

Wanted the offense to see that I thought that?  Did he actually say that?  What is this, kindergarten?  You chose to risk winning a game for a moral boost?  The answer, of course, is yes.  And the coach, of course, is wrong.  All three of Lovie Smith’s principle weaknesses were clearly on display with that call.

Married to Ideology
Just like his frequent defense of the Lovie Deuce, the coach has frequently uttered the phrase “we’re a running football team.”  Do running football teams sacrifice two drafts for a major quarterback talent?  Do running football teams hire Mike Martz to call their offensive plays?  The Bears had been moving the ball down the field through the air all day but suddenly – at the one yard line – they tried to be something they are not.  This is why they’ve had trouble scoring in the red zone.  Answer honestly.  If Martz lets Jay go into shotgun four times down there, you think they score?  I do.

Doesn’t Recognize Flaws
The elite coaches, the elite general managers, are the ones who can recognize where the flaws are on their roster.  The Bears have a weak offensive line and no safeties.  So what do a team with a weak offensive line do on the goalline?  Explore the power running game, of course!  (Especially when the opponent’s strength is their defensive line!)  The Lovie Smith era is littered with overmatched players being exposed in the spotlight – from the continual embarrassment of Danieal Manning to Rex Grossman’s porous Super Bowl performance.  It is stubbornness and arrogance that lead a coach to behave this way. 

No Feel For the Game

Great coaches feel the game.  Lovie Smith does not.  If the Bears kicked the field goal in that spot, they would have taken a lead.  With seven minutes remaining.  In a game where they’d allowed about 100 yards of total offense.  Instead they risked inspiring a deflated Lions team, reduced to their lost backup quarterback, and starting the season 0-1 at home.  There is not a great coach in the sport that makes that call there.  
And yet the Bears start the season 1-0 and I think they’re going to have a great many chances to win more football games this year.  The only question is, will they be able to do so despite their head coach?