Recent comments by Chicago Bears players and coaches suggest they’ll look to leave if head coach Lovie Smith is let go at the end of the year.
Veterans Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and one of Smith’s longest tenured coaches – special teams coordinator Dave Toub - have publicly supported for Smith to stay. There’s even been hints by some veterans that they’re tied with Smith and he goes, they’ll go with him.
It isn’t uncommon to see coaches, general managers and even quarterbacks get the booted collectively by an organization. Last season, Jerry Angelo was relieved of his duties of general manager and was replaced by Phil Emery. Next season, quarterback Jay Cutler will be in the last year of his deal, and it would be surprising to see him not in a Bears’ uniform next season.
Smith would be the next person held accountable if you’re following the typical NFl food chain, with Emery being the force with the most power deciding Smith’s fate with the Bears.
There’s a big ripple effect when looking at Smith potentially leaving the Bears. While he’s only had three playoff wins in nine seasons as the Bears head coach, his players adore him. His soft spoken way of getting through to his players works. He has the players attention more as a father figure.
Smith doesn’t have to yell at his players. He doesn’t command their respect and attention by confronting a player after they reach the sideline.
If Urlacher, Briggs or Tillman and other veteran players let Smith down, their head coach will let them know about it. Smith has the “I’m not mad at you, I’m just disappointed in you” impact down to an art with his players. It sounds corny and cheesy, but this regime is a family; the players and coaches, specifically.
Emery could find himself in a position where veteran players would want to bolt if he decides Smith isn’t fit for his vision of the Bears. At least, it sounds like players on defense would look to leave – the side that Smith has taken an increasingly larger role with over the last several years while letting his offensive coaches handle more of their game plan.
Would Briggs, Tillman and even Julius Peppers be willing to play in a different scheme? Or more importantly, would these longtime veteran Bears play for a different head coach?