Well, the Chicago Bears were too cheap to fire coach Lovie Smith after all, but they did do plenty of house cleaning on Tuesday.
First, let’s address Smith. He’s under contract for two more years at a total of $11 million. Despite going 23-25 in the past three seasons, including 7-9 this season, the Bears decided to keep Smith. It’s widely believed the organization didn’t want to pay Smith $11 million while paying another coach $X million for the next two years. If the Bears have demonstrated nothing else over the years, they’ve certainly demonstrated that they’re cheap.
Other than Lovie, the Bears’ coaching staff will look dramatically different in 2010.
First, offensive coordinator Ron Turner was canned, a move widely expected after the Bears finished 23rd in the NFL in total offense after acquiring quarterback Jay Cutler in the offseason.
Also canned were quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton, offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, tight ends coach Rob Boras, offensive assistant/assistant offensive line coach Luke Butkus, and offensive assistant/assistant wide receivers coach Charles London. Hamilton never gelled with Cutler and the Bears had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, prompting the ouster of Hiestand.
On the defensive side of the ball, Smith was stripped of his defensive coordinator title. Early reports indicated that former Detroit Lions coach and current Bears defensive line/assistant head coach Rod Marinelli would take over as defensive coordinator, but those reports were unfounded.
Smith says the Bears will bring in someone from outside the organization to run the defense. That man may be former Buffalo Bills interim coach Perry Fewell, who was previously Smith’s defensive backs coach in both St. Louis and Chicago.
Additionally, former St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz has thrown his hat in the ring for the Bears’ offensive coordinator position. Smith was Martz’s defensive coordinator when Martz coached the Rams.
Also mentioned as possibilities for the offensive coordinator spot are former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis and Jeremy Bates, an assistant at USC who coached Cutler in Denver.
Will these moves improve Chicago? Not if general manager Jerry Angelo doesn’t put some better players around Cutler, specifically on the offensive line and in the receiving corp.
Surely, someone like Martz or Weis would utilize Cutler’s skills better than Turner did, but Cutler isn’t the kind of guy who can carry a team by himself. He needs good players around him to succeed.
If Cutler doesn’t have that, the Bears can reincarnate George Halas to be their coach and they still won’t win shit.