Support for Bears coach Lovie Smith from inside of Halas Hall inherently has a ''dog-bites-man'' level of newsworthiness. But the level of passion for a coach as dispassionate as Lovie Smith shouldn't be ignored.
''I don't think there's a better coach in the National Football League than Lovie Smith,'' wide receivers coach Darryl Drake said. ''And I'm not saying that because I work for him. I'm saying that because I truly believe that.
''It's a blessing for me to work for him. I don't know if I'll work for anybody else. I'm at a stage in my career where he has set the bar really, really high. He let's us coach. He let's us do our thing. We're responsible for production. But his approach to the game, to me, is the way it should be done.''
Like Drake, special teams coordinator Dave Toub has been with Smith since he came to Chicago but had not coached with him before that.
''We are very lucky -- the Chicago Bears are very lucky -- to have Lovie Smith, and we better realize that. Everybody better realize that,'' Toub said.
''He lets coaches coach. He lets me do my job. He has total trust in everything that I do. Obviously, I don't call everything without going through him - but he lets me design our schemes and doesn't second-guess what we do. You can't get a better situation as a coach.''
Smith's loyalty to his coaches and his players is one of the hallmarks of his coaching tenure with the Bears. It has kept his team together through difficult times. The Bears have faltered in key moments in his nine years as head coach -- the Bears have made the playoffs three times under Smith -- but rarely if ever because of a fractured locker room.
''Every player you talk to is going to tell you the same thing. Every one of them,'' Drake said. ''The players don't lie. They're the ones that know.
''I have guys all over the league that say, 'Man I wish I was with y'all.' It's all because of him. And it's all across the league. Active guys. I could never tell you their names because that would get them in trouble. But it happens all the time.
''The perception that [the media] have, that's just people. Not everybody's going to like Lovie Smith. Not everybody's going to like Darryl Drake. They're just people and that's their deal. But the way I look at it, we are blessed to have him.''