Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Chicago Bears send head coach Lovie Smith packing after 10-6 season

The Chicago Bears surprised many of their fans on Dec. 31 when they fired head coach Lovie Smith after he led the team to a 10-6 NFL season in 2012. Some fans expected more of the club however after they got off to a 7-1 start, but then failed to make the playoffs. The team played well defensively during the season and many insiders feel the ineffective offense was the cause of the collapse. Smith leaves the Bears with an overall record of 81-63 after nine years with the club.

The Bears went into the last two weeks of the regular season at 8-6 and even though they won their final two games, it wasn’t enough for Smith to hang onto his job or for the team to squeak into the postseason. The Bears have been inconsistent since Smith led them to the Super Bowl in 2006 and will now look to go into another direction. The team suffered through several injuries this year with the likes of Brian Urlacher and Matt Forte missing games as well as several offensive linemen falling. But missing the playoffs for the second consecutive year was too much for the Bears ownership.

The club will likely add to its roster through free agency during the offseason since they have quite a bit of salary cap space to work with. They could also make even more room if they release Julius Peppers. He’s owed $17.6 million next season and the Bears can save $8.1 million of this if they cut their ties with him. It’s also possible that quarterback Jay Cutler could have his contract extended and reworked.

Chicago will have its own free agents such as Urlacher and Henry Melton and they could be lost. The Bears major concern will likely trying to upgrade their offensive line.

Smith found out he was let go when he met with the Bears upper management, but he might have known what was coming since Chicago has missed the playoffs in five out of their last six seasons. Also, general manager Phil Emery joined the club just last year, and it’s believed he wants to hire his own coaches. It was reported that Emery was told when he was hired that he’d have to go with Smith as head coach for the 2012 season, but could then decide his fate after that.

Smith was the head coach of the Bears for a total of nine NFL seasons and they made the playoffs just three times under his rein, including an appearance in the Super Bowl. He always had a strong defense to work with, but his teams were always in the middle of the pack. Quarterback Cutler will now have to work with a new offensive coordinator and Chicago might actually have to start from scratch before improving with a new coach.

The Bears have reportedly already begun their search for a new coach and one of the candidates mentioned is Mike McCoy, the offensive coordinator with the Denver Broncos.

Ian Palmer

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