Chicago Sun-Times

California dreaming: Ex-Bears gather in San Diego

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Looks like there is going to be a reunion of sorts in San Diego for former Bears' assistant coaches.

Steve Wilks, the defensive backs who Lovie Smith fired on Dec. 30, interviewed in San Diego with the Chargers on Saturday and will meet with team officials at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., to finalize a contract later today. It's also believed that Don Johnson, the defensive line coach for the Bears from 2005-06, will join the Chargers in some capacity. Johnson was surprisingly let go by Smith following Super Bowl XLI when defensive coordinator Ron Rivera was also run off. Rivera, of course, is calling the shots on defense for the Chargers after a midseason promotion.

Johnson spent the last two seasons with the Oakland Raiders. Wilks was the last coach to be interviewed by ex-Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden. Wilks met with Gruden on Friday about becoming the Buccaneers defensive backs coach. Wilks left for the airport to return to Chicago and the Glazers axed Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen. It's believed Gruden offered a job to Wilks.

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11 Comments

It's funny how everyone says how great Rivera is. How come he can't get a head coaching job?? Can you say "overrated"?

Rivera is great and the reason hes not head coach is because hes not a head coach hes a d coord.and proven one of the best.lovie and his staff are the one who are overrated!!!NOT rivera!Yous rather have bob babich or lovie coaching the defense?yeah right...hahaha...the bears will stink until the coaching staff is fired!!!babich lovie and ron tuner are all wanna-bees.Wake up bears fans!!until the owners and coaching staff are gone the bears will never..NEVER WIN A SUPERBOWL!!!!!!

Hey Mike in Ft. Wayne.....I would much rather have Lovie coaching our Defense than some big game choker that spends most of his time patting himself on the back. By the way, who do you root for???

every d-coordinator looks lackluster when you cant get pressure with your front 4

the cardianls made jim johnson look like bob babich last night...even with massive blitzing

the bears have the 2nd most wins in the nfc since lovie's been on board...not to say lovie is the greatest coach ever but he is far from the worse...

AND rivera has been to exactly how many SB's after leaving chciago?

lets be realistic hre people

After cut-throating the sitting DC to get the job, Rivera is spending the off season hiring all his BFFs to help him coach defense. And y'all think he hung the moon.

Golly, don't know why Lovie didn't think of hiring his friends. If he would just learn to do things like Rivera, he would have be a lot more popular with the fans.
/sarcasm off/

Good for Wilkes and Johnson and good for Rivera.

I would have like to have had Rivera remain in Chicago. But Lovie wanted someone else. Getting to the SB allowed Lovie to make his move. Fine.

Somehow when we look back at Rivera we see 2006 and not the failure against the Panthers in the 2005 playoffs. Can anyone say Steve Smith?

As for pointing a finger at Lovie for missing the playoffs since canning Rivera. Fair enough. I would have liked to have seen Babich go after this past season.

But in a bottom line league, Angelo and Smith's team (our team) is tied for the 2nd most wins over the past 4 years in the NFC. We are tied with the Cowboys and the Giants have a few more wins. When you add in the AFC, only the Patriots, Steelers and Colts have more wins in the past 4 years. So we are tied for the 5th most wins over the past 4 years. And people point the finer at Lovie. Interesting.

This is a bottom line league. If Lovie and crew fail to make the playoffs in 2009 then the heat should be on Halas Hall more than it is now.

MD Kevin:

Interesting list of winning teams in the NFL you got there. Let's see if those teams show up on any other lists....oh yeah, the last few Superbowl winners:

SB38 New England Patriots

SB39 New England Patriots

SB40 Pittsburgh Steelers

SB41 Indianapolis Colts

SB42 New York Giants


.....hmmmmm, I don't see any teams called the Chicago Bears in there....and why would that be? Because of Lovie and Angelo who have run off good assistant coaches and released productive players. Let's take a look:

Chris Harris
Bobby Wade
Bernard Berrian
Thomas Jones
Muhsin Muhammad
Justin Gage
Marc Colombo

Heck I even saw Bryan Robinson playing for the Cardinals this weekend. And Cedric Benson seems to be playing better since he left here, so did Brian Griese. Most of the players on that list were in the playoffs this year, unlike the Bears. Can you tell me that the Bears are better off with the players we have rather than these guys....I didn't think so. Other than Berrian, these guys were all released or essentially traded away for a pair of cleats.

And these are just the guys I could think of off the top of my head! There are probably a dozen others.

Bottom line Angelo cannot consistently draft and Lovie cannot coach a championship level football team. Kind of a deadly combination wouldn't you agree. Angelo can't replace the players that Lovie gets rid of and Lovie can't coach the ones that are here.

This can't be just bad luck, there is just too much evidence out there that Lovie and Angelo wasted the legacy that Mark Hatley (and you might even say Dick Jauron) left them.

Don't worry Bears fans, we only have three more years of this - Angelo re-signed Lovie through 2011......

John F I think you are a little off base on your comment regarding players on other rosters, Let's examine your list, Chris Harris was traded yes, his pick brought us back Zack Bowman, who won us a game single-armedly this season and looks to be a find to early to totally call this a mistake, Columbo constantly injured with the BEARS he's a guy we gave multiple chances to, got picked up by Dallas and is finally healthy, Wade do you forget how many times he fumbled before we finally let him go, Muhammed, I seem to recall he dropped a pass again in the playoff game against Arizona, Gage has done well, Berrian do you really think we should have paid him what he got from the Vikes...also the BEARS lost the game to the Colts, they were the only team that could have in that year replaced them on your list remember.

MD Kevin is right Lovie has won games just not enough, Angelo brings in solid guys, but you make the pro-Bowl on reputation not just on skill, we have a good coach who has made himself accountable for the teams success next season, we should have made playoffs this season, but the coaches and players both did not get the job done. Lovie still needs better players to win consistently, look at his roster versus the teams you list. Ask yourself how many games would Dungy, Belichek, Coughlin or Tomlin would win with our team John F????

Rivera turned the Chargers D around after he replaced Ted Cottrell, he did a fantastic job as DC. The Bears are known for great defense, the more ex Bears the better for this long time suffering Charger fan, I have been a fan of the Chargers since the Chargers first game in LA in 1960. I am happy that Rivera wasn't picked up as a head coach this year, he knows what it takes to do a great job, the players love playing for him, and don't be surprised if all of the ex Bear coaches are in the Super Bowl next year with Merriman back on the field. Thank you Chicago!

MD, Lovie has been here for 5 years not four. How does his record stack up then? In fact how does it stack up without Rivera? You can pick spacific years if you want. How about the last 2? How do we stack up there? Or how about compared too the AFC teams over 5 years or 4 years or 2 years? We play in the second weakest division in football, and in the weaker of the 2 confrences and we can't make the Playoffs for 2 years in a row. The Bears didn't even have much in the way of injuries.

As for 05 with Steve Smith just remember one thing. Rivera is not running his scheme he is running Lovie's scheme and in Lovie's scheme he did not let his corners flip. One of the only teams in football to do that. Even if Rivera wanted too you don't just flip corners if you never practice that way. Also Tillman has a tendency to get killed by top end talent.

It was well known that Lovie did not like Rivera and wanted his own people in there. That is why Rivera is gone. If Lovie is so great what happened to the defense right after Rivera left. As for him being a Choker. Rivera's as DC is 3-3 in the playoffs. You can't blame him for the Super Bowl that Rex basically gave away.

You know Rex is our Quarter Back. I'll tell you guys about Lovie if he is such a great coach than set an example that the team comes first. Fires every defensive coach except his friend who is the biggest problem. Gives Benson the Job and gets rid of Jones. Handed Rex the Job without actually having a compitition. Hires another friend in Rod. Yeah that sounds like a real good coach. Sounds to me like he cares more about his friends and himself than the Bears. Which is sad cause he actually gets paid to care about the Bears.

Lets take a look at Rivera and the Bears

2003 the year before Rivera got here the Bears ranked 22nd in points allowed
2004 Rivera's first year they ranked 13th in points allowed
2005 1st in Points allowed
2006 3rd in points allowed
2007 No Rivera 16th in points allowed( Injuries you say?)
2008 16th in Points allowed Well well, even Brown stayed healthy.

No let look at Lovie as a DC for the Rams
99 two years before Lovie the Rams were 4th in points allowed
00 1 year before lovie they drop down too 31st. What happened?
01 Lovie time, the Rams defense returns too its 99 form and finishes 7th in points allowed
02 Defense finishes 23rd in points allowed. What happened?
03 The tie breaker the defensive genius gets the Rams to finish 17th in points allowed.

Wow that doesn't seem very special too me. Maybe the offense was so bad for those Rams teams that it hung the defense out to dry and they got tired. Oh wait thats the greatest show on turf team. Never mind The defense always played with a lead. So the defense could attack as much as it wanted too. Did Lovie ever go to the Super Bowl with the Rams and there super offense and his super defense? Nope. But with Rivera his defense got much better. How strange.

The Packers now have a better DC than we do. Look out. Cause I think the Bears are in trouble. Wait till Capers gets the 3-4 going in 2010.

Speaking as a San Diegan, I gotta add some things.
1) Rivera didn't cut throat the former DC (Ted Cottrell). Cottrell showed a complete lack of any creativity in any actions whereas the previous year he showed some. Cottrell can be bluntly blamed for most of our initial losses. Rivera came in and basically helped stop the bleeding of this bad defense. If Rivera has a good year, then he'll be a HC next year.
2) Coordinators are a crap shot to become a HC - Rex Ryan interviewed for a bunch before becoming a HC now but no one denies his talent. Same with Mike Singletary and Steve Spagnolio and Jim Schwartz. Wildly talented, been pushing for HC jobs but didn't get them til recently.
3) Lovie seems to jettison their best coaches and players. Why you got rid of such a good DC I don't know. Same with their assistant coaches. But its our gain. And it helps to have people who are all following the same game plan. We've had a mix of Cottrell/Wade Phillips and Rivera coordinators so maybe now it'll help to get em all on one page.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on January 19, 2009 9:34 AM.

Angelo on a Mike Brown return: "I don't see that right now" was the previous entry in this blog.

Four Down Territory, Jan. 19: Should Bears target USC's Sanchez? is the next entry in this blog.

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