Lovie Smith’s firing by the Chicago Bears on Monday came as a shock to Bears fans and players, but his inconsistency to improve the offense and move forward to the postseason ultimately led to his firing.
“During the course of Smith’s career, we’ve had one offense that ranked in the teens (in 2006, when the Bears advanced to the Super Bowl). We haven’t had the balance between our defensive excellence,” Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery said during a Tuesday press conference. “We have searched for answers. The end result is we did not have enough consistency. That, paired with not getting into the playoffs on a consistent basis, I made the change moving forward.”
During Smith’s nine-year tenure as Bears head coach he compiled an overall record of 81-63, making three playoff appearances. He led the Bears to a Super Bowl appearance during the 2006-07 season, but loss to the Indianapolis Colts 29-17. But the Bears have been unable to repeat that success, missing the playoffs in five of the last six seasons with Smith at the helm.
Emery remained adamant that it was his decision to fire Smith and that he had approval from Bears chairman George McCaskey and team president Ted Phillips.
McCaskey told reporters that firing Smith was a difficult decision because his family has high regard for Smith. At times McCaskey struggled to keep his emotions together when Smith reported to a meeting on Monday with Emery, Phillips, and him.
Now the Bears must conduct an intense search as they look to find a new coach. Emery said that they would like to have a new coach in place by Jan. 19 at the East-West Shrine Game or Jan. 26 for the Senior Bowl.
The interviews will begin over the next two weeks and Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy will be the first person interviewed over the weekend. The Bears will also interview Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, according to ESPN.
As of right now the rest of Smith’s assistant coaches are still under contract and will not know their destiny until the new head coach is selected.
But one thing in certain with firing of Smith, the Bears must search for a new identity on defense and Jay Cutler will likely have to start fresh with another offensive coordinator next year.
Smith joined six other coaches in the unemployment line on what is deemed as “Black Monday” in the NFL. Ken Whisenhunt, Andy Reid, Romo Crennel, Chan Gailey, Pat Shurmur and Norv Turner were all fired on Monday.