Some fans have written their protest songs about the contract extension given to Lovie Smith by Jerry Angelo and the Chicago Bears. Some believe we have entered into a deal with the world’s most boring devil – a devil that has no concept of game management or the correct use of challenge flags. Some believe the surprising 2010 campaign, capped off with a trip to the NFC title game, had nothing to do with the head coach from Big Sandy, Texas.
Here’s the truth. Most sports fans are impetuous, thoughtless morons. Just listen to a local call-in radio show for three or four hours and you’ll find yourself asking questions like, “Did that guy really wait on hold for an hour to say the Jets should try onside kicking more?” Fans, for the most part, don’t have any idea what’s actually taking place on the playing field. That requires some reading, some careful viewing, speaking to and listening to people who know much more than you. And most folks don’t have the time.
Another truth. Most well-run NFL franchises don’t allow coaches to exist on a one-year deal. Because the sport is so system-oriented, it becomes difficult for coaches to get players to buy into a system if they don’t believe the system will be there long-term. Why learn three-technique for a defense that won’t be in place in twelve months? Lovie would have been on a his final year in 2011. The Bears would not allow that. So they gave him an extension. A one-year extension would have been transparently cosmetic. They gave him two.
If Lovie Smith fails next season, especially if the Bears spend more money this offseason, he’ll be fired. I don’t doubt that for a moment. This contract is not so much a reward for good work as another opportunity for Smith to find consistency. His career in Chicago has been successful, without question, but it has not been consistent. The Bears believe the program has turned the corner and now Lovie must prove that it has. But make no mistake about it: Lovie Smith is coaching for his life again in 2011.