David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune praises former Bears head coach Lovie Smith but at the same time under-states the positives of current head coach John Fox by stating that there’s not much difference between the two:
“The praise heaped on Fox comes mostly because he benefits by comparison to predecessor Marc Trestman, the cerebral interloper more suited as a life coach than an NFL head coach.”
“Truth is, Fox re-established credibility at Halas Hall by doing the job much the way Smith did for nine seasons: treating players like men and employing a philosophy built on a strong defense and conservative offense… If Smith could hire offensive coordinators as well as Fox has, perhaps he could have returned to a Super Bowl with the Bears.”
“Fox’s consistency in approach — something that always helped Smith connect with players — gives the Bears hope for the future no matter what their 2015 record is.
“Meanwhile, history gets a little kinder to Smith every week.”
I think everyone recognizes Smith’s accomplishments here and I think everyone recognized them when he left. But we also recognized his faults and there’s no doubt that Fox is a great improvement as a head coach. Fox has almost all of Smith’s positive attributes with out the baggage brought by Smith’s weird combination of both arrogance and insecurity.
It was the arrogance that made him insist on more power over personnel than he should have had in Chicago. It’s what’s gong to end up holding the Buccaneers back with Smith in charge of personnel there. As former bear general manager Jerry Angelo put it:
[James Winston is] right on the cusp of being a franchise quarterback. They were a really bad team a year ago and they’re not really that much better this year except for him.
My mother could have drafted Winton or Marcus Mariota.
It was his insecurity that caused his poor record of hiring coordinators. Smith insisted they have experience working with him before because he was afraid of the creative tension that might be brought on by someone with a different point of view. He also lived by the tenant that you should never hire anyone good enough to be your own replacement. Even if you discount these speculations the fact remains that Smith couldn’t attract the best coaches.
Fox has none of these problems as demonstrated by the fact that he hired offensive coordinator Adam Gase and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, the two best available coordinators of 2015. He stays in the background and helps them do their jobs rather than doing it for them as Smith did with the defense after firing Ron Rivera for the sin of occasionally disagreeing with him.
In many ways Smith was a wonderful head coach and despite his flaws he brought some good years to Chicago and I’m grateful. But I don’t miss him. Looking back, the Bears are much better off now than they ever were then.