Well there's been a couple of days now since the Bears announcement of massive changes while things aren't changing all that much. I don't quite subscribe to the theory that nothing has happened--changing two coordinators and minimizing Lovie's role is indeed substantial. The changes, I think, will prove to be more than superficial if it comes to pass that we don't get "his guy" in the role.
However, there is one fact that is sticking out to me as almost a slap in the face to intelligent Bears fans. The continued insistence that Lovie Smith was kept around because the organization "really thinks they can turn it around quick."
I'm excited to remain in my position as head football coach of the Chicago Bears. I think I'm remaining in the position because ownership, administration, the powers that be have confidence that I can, that we can get the Bears back on top.
That was Lovie Smith in Tuesday's super-special big change press conference, where Ted Phillips, Jerry Angelo, and Lovie Smith all expounded on the new changes to the system. Obtaining two new coordinators is a rare thing, and it will be very interesting to watch the situation develop.
Ted Philips continued on Wendesday to insist the same thing while talking to ESPN 1000's Afternoon Saloon Show:
If I didn't think that Lovie could get the job done again, he wouldn't be here, regardless of whether there is one month or one year left on his contract.
That's all well and good, Mr. Phillips, but there's a problem with that. There's not one month, or one year left on his contract. There's two. Those two years are worth roughly $11,000,000. You're also in a very unique situation.
I don't think that it surprises anyone here that historically, the Bears are viewed as something of a stingy organization, much like Homer Simpson sorta likes Duff beer. They often seem hesitant to pay big money for things, and when they do, they're often paying it to the wrong people. (Though I hear Cedric Benson is enjoying his renaissance in Cincinnati.)
That being said, the organization is looking at a head coach owed $11 mil, and the possibility of not even playing football in two seasons. When looking at it from a business standpoint, I can definitely understand avoiding paying two people for a year when they aren't doing anything. If that's going to be the case, though, don't pander to us with cliches, indirect answers, and misdirection.
We know that things cost money, and giving it up in very large chunks hurts. Anyone who's ever had to get their car repaired in an emergency, or had damage to their home, or even been to an emergency room. We pay these amounts, though, because that's what has to be done.
Even this very morning, while on with 670 The Score's Mully and Hanley, when asked by Hanley specifically:
Ted, a lot of people, you know the perception's out there, a lot of people believe that the only reason Lovie's still here is he has two years $11 million or so left on his contract. My question to you would be, and I think most Bear fans would want this asked, if Lovie had been out of contract, if Jerry had been out of contract, and if given the season you just had, would they have been brought back just because it's continuity and the right thing to do?
Phillips then spoke about how he was asked this before, and reiterated the "if we didn't think they could do it, they wouldn't be here" line. He then spoke about how he knows fans want to win, and they want to win too.
Then Hanley asked to clarify, that Phillips would indeed offer them a contract if they had been out of it. Phillips then said (emphasis mine):
I, I can't answer a hypothetical question. But I can tell you that I believe that, where we're at with Lovie and Jerry, that they can turn this around. That working together is our best chance at turning it around quickly.
Unfortunately, Mr. Phillips, you should be able to answer that hypothetical question, but the party line has been chosen, and I understand that. If you truly believe that these are the two who can get it done, you can unequivocally answer "Yes, I would give them a contract." I know that saying "No, I wouldn't" suggests that you're making the wrong choice now. Many believe you are. But at least give us the benefit of the doubt.
So as for me personally, I'm taking a wait-and-see approach. I am, to a fault, always optimistic during the offseason. There will be no one happier than me if this group and the new changes do return us to the playoffs, or even the Super Bowl. I will be willing to admit that I was wrong about this group.
I just wish the team could at least admit that financials, among other things, will always play in their decisions.