After finishing the season 10-6, and starting the season 7-1, the Bears fail to make the playoffs for the fifth time in six years. Following this, the Bears parted ways with Lovie Smith as the head coach after 9 seasons, even though he had three losing seasons during that time.
Devin Hester did not keep quite about the decision and spoke of retiring after the news surfaced. According to Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com, an emotional Hester said “I don’t even know if I want to play again.”
On ESPN 1000 this morning, Mike Ditka also said he was also very unhappy about the decision. Ditka said: “If Minnesota would have lost last night and the Bears were in the playoffs this wouldn’t have happened. That’s a fact. So how stupid is it then? It really is stupid.”
Considering the changes in management over the past year or so, this does not come as a surprise to me personally, although I am not happy about it. Lovie is a great defensive coach, has struggled on offense, but has always seemed to have the hearts of all his players. But I think the decision was influenced by the lack of a reliable offense that has been developed the past several seasons. And all that is fair, but the front office needs to give Lovie credit for what he has been able to accomplish while he was here, and Phil Emery must realize that his first year as GM is over, and it is only realistic that he will have to be held responsible for more as we move forward as an organization.
At the end of the day this is a business, and I’m sure that there are a lot of bitter politics involved in all of these decisions. But after the former general manager made a series of questionable decisions and made a few changes to the offensive staff that contributed (some what) to the lack of protection of the QB, Lovie managed to keep it together to the best of his ability.
I would also argue that the lack of consistency in management and coaching is something the Bears need to avoid in order to make the most of the talent on the roster. We won’t know if this is the right decision right now, and we won’t know until we see what happens next season, but right now everyone should be thankful for the Lovie era and all he has done for this city and organization.