Lots of questions came in today and I am going to get to as many as I can. Here we go.
Q: I don't understand how the Bears can give Lovie Smith another year after three non-playoff seasons just because he has two years left on his deal. If he is facing a playoffs or else 2010, why not make the move now when some of the best coaches in the sport are out on the market? And if they are worried about the 2011 lockout, would they actually bring him back to fulfill the final year if he misses the playoffs again? It is going to be very difficult to bring in a big offensive coordinator under Lovie given his tenuous status. And given how stubborn Lovie has been in sticking with his schemes and gameplans, that's another year of trying to bring in personnel to fit his Cover 2 defense. Who do you think would be a better fit for the Bears: Bill Cowher or Mike Shanahan? Cowher probably brings a better front office team and his personality and style would be a big hit in this town yet Shanahan is an Illinois native who would provide an elite offensive mentor for Cutler but has struggled in building a defense when he has the personnel control.
Joe B., Oxford, Conn.
A: I don't have an explanation for every move that has been made at Halas Hall in the past. Dave Wannstedt went 4-12 in 1997 and returned the next season to, you know, go 4-12 all over again. I agree with you that it might make it tough for Smith to find a top offensive coordinator if he is under a win-or-else mandate, but Mike Martz could be available and I've already covered the ties there and Martz's stated desire to work with Cutler. Bringing back Smith might make it difficult for the Bears in 2010, but there are still five games remaining and I am interested to see how they fare with little left to play for than pride. I don't see the McCaskeys shooting for the moon with Cowher or Shanahan or another top guy. General manager Jerry Angelo has said on the record that the franchise is not going to set the bar for pay at positions. Do you think they are going to set the bar for pay with a coach? Do you think they're going to show Angelo the door with four years left on his contract? I don't. That's like saying, "Jerry, Arizona or Florida, where do you want us to pay for you to live for the next four years?" Cowher might demand complete control. Ditto Shanahan. I'm just going off past history--the best indicator for future results--when I say it's unlikely. Does anyone know something I don't about this situation? Shanahan is a popular choice but he wasn't super involved with Cutler in Denver. Jeremy Bates and Mike Heimerdinger did a lot of the work with Cutler. Shanahan also hasn't won much of anything since John Elway retired. Remember back in April when I wrote about Cutler needing to do a better job with ball security and the masses coming out and blaming his 18 interceptions on one of the worst defenses the NFL had seen in, oh, a decade? That was Shanahan's defense. However, I think if Gary Kubiak gets the axe in Houston, Shanahan could instantly become an even better candidate for any job because he could get the old gang together again. Many of Kubiak's people were also with Shanahan in Denver previously. The Bears might aim for lesser name coaches, but I'm not going to speculate on possible names right now because that is all it would be, total speculation. Let's allow this thing to play out here. Smith is the coach. He's got a deal through 2011. And who cares that Shanahan is from Illinois? That's as tiring to me as the idea that the Bears should seek a coach with past ties to the organization. That's neither here nor there, ever.