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Blame Chicago's cold, Lovie

  • It probably wasn't all Lovie Smith's fault that the Bears were merely average during his time as head coach. He can partly blame the cold for making fans so irrational.
It probably wasn't all Lovie Smith's fault that the Bears were… (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago…)
January 02, 2013|By Ben Johnson | For RedEye

What was the Lovie Smith era in Chicago? If you take the Bears' average record under Smith, you get nine years of 9-7 teams with a one-in-three chance of making the playoffs and an average playoff exit in the second round after winning the wild card game.

Good morning, Chicago, it's mid-August, and your football team is about to go 9-7 with a one-in-three chance of making the playoffs. If they make the playoffs, they'll probably lose in the second round. Are you in? Keep in mind you don't have a choice.

Many fans would be fine with this. Cleveland would do backflips at the prospect of a 9-7 season. Bears fans with any memory of the ’90s should respond to this prediction with the kind of slow, low-expectations-exceeded head nod reserved for "this chili isn't half bad for a Wendy's."

However, a decade of the same thing can wear on you, and this is Chicago, where regardless of our track record of football futility, not having anything to look forward to in January can be hazardous to your sanity.

I'd love to make a case for Smith to remain the head coach in Chicago. I think he's a good football coach, and it's not his fault the Bears drafted only eight offensive linemen with the 67 picks they've had (and only two of those eight in the first three rounds) since he took over. I think he'll improve whatever team he ends up with, perhaps a defensively stout Buffalo squad whose fans would riot on the spot if you told them the Bills would go 9-7 every year for a decade.

But it's 12 degrees outside.

That's cold enough to twist your ankle stepping on a frozen dog turd, and in the process accidentally ram the neighbors' wrought-iron gate into your eye socket. And when your reward for successfully navigating the streets is a warm couch and a second consecutive week of Packers-Vikings, that gate starts to look tempting.

That's why Smith had to go and why we'll happily pay for it with a step back from perpetual 9-7. Adios, Lovie. Hopefully you'll land someplace warm.

RedEye special contributor Ben Johnson is a comedian at iO Theater in Chicago. @itisbenjo


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