I'm all for a good debate on this subject, but let me stop you right now if you intend to solely argue about Lovie Smith not being an in your face coach that doesn't bring the fire and the passion like Mike Ditka did. You don't need to be a surly S.O.B. to be a successful Head Coach in the NFL, you need the respect of your players and assistant coaches. Leadership qualities are as important if not more important than game planning. And I'll get into his game planning later.
In this first part (part 2 and 3 will go up in a day or two) I'll focus on a few types types of coaching styles. I think what Lovie Smith allows the public to see is different that what the players see in the locker room. A good football coach is able to know what his team needs and is able to change his approach if need be. Some players need a pat on the back, others need a kick in the butt, some players need a seat in the doghouse, and some need all three.
I've attended a few coaching clinics through the years, and they say there are three basic types of coaches. The first is the Command style, which is more like a dictatorship. These are your hardass, in your face types that many fans like. Coaches in the mold of Bill Cowher, Tom Coughlin, Bill Parcells, and yes, Mike Ditka. This coach was once the only coach that existed. Old school yelling and intimidation tactics are what many of us grew up playing for. This type of authoritative coach can be successful, but often teams start to tune the yelling out. It's a fine line coaches walk with this style.
The Submissive style is nothing more than a glorified babysitter. These coaches are fun to play for as they basically allow the inmates to run the asylum, but it takes a special self-motivated team to have success with this coach. When Barry Switzer took over the Dallas Cowboys many said he was the ultimate players' coach and he gave them a free reign on a lot of stuff. He won a Super Bowl with a team built by Jimmy Johnson but resigned after 4 seasons in Dallas. Eventually players want to be coached and pushed, which is why this more casual style rarely works at the higher levels.
Quick tangent - Let me squash the 'the players like Lovie because he runs his team like a country club' garbage right away. These are professional athletes and they didn't get to this level by being lazy. To even think Lovie and his coaching staff aren't pushing the team to work hard and get in shape is ignorant. And I hear the same B.S. in regards to the Bears not going live in practice. Do you realize how many NFL, college, high school, and youth football teams never hit live?
The last type is the Cooperative style. These teachers will challenge their team by allowing them to be involved in some of the decision making. Having more of a democratic approach with the players and the staff is a great way to go, but having that balance with some discipline is necessary, otherwise you start to drift toward the Submissive style. Bill Walsh, Tony Dungy, Marv Levy, and Lovie Smith all fall into this category.
I know some that don't like Lovie as a coach would like to paint him in the babysitter category, but that's just not the case. Lovie has a fatherly aura about him and he's a teacher at heart. The players that play for Lovie Smith would do anything for their coach. That tells me all I need to know about the man. He may be quiet and reserved in a public setting, but behind the scenes he commands respect. It'll be time for the Bears to look for a new coach when the players start to quit on Smith, but I don't see that happening; Ever.
Just this last season, three coaches with three very different styles were fired among rumors that they lost their locker room. Detail-orientated Brad Childress, laid back Wade Phillips, and in your face Mike Singletary. You can't really question a coach's football knowledge if they make it to the NFL, so from that standpoint all three are among the best in their field. It was their interaction with their players that ultimately doomed them. A good leader has to be able to alter their approach from time to time.
You claim you grow tired of the mediocrity and you crave a team that is a contender each and every season, but honestly how many teams have a head coach and a front office that have that? Three or four... If finding a coach that is that incredibly consistent was easy all 32 teams would have one. I'm not saying we as Bears fans shouldn't want more from our team, I'm just saying we need to keep it in perspective.
Click here for part 2 and part 3 will be up soon...