The Chicago Bears are looking for a new man to lead the defense, and a familiar face might be the perfect choice for the job.
Alex Shapiro of NBC Sports on Wednesday, September 20, compiled a list of five viable candidates to take over a Bears defense that has struggled through two games this season. Among those Shapiro suggested was former Chicago head coach Lovie Smith.
Smith did the Bears a solid by winning his last game as the Houston Texans head coach– and handing the Bears the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft. Is he ready to come back to help them some more?
The defense Smith ran while he was the head coach of the Bears from 2004-2012 is similar to [Matt] Eberflus’ defense, and Eberflus’ H.I.T.S. principles include the same loafs Smith handed out when he was in Chicago. The two coaches seem to see the game the same way, so there shouldn’t be any question about fit. The offensive struggles under Smith’s watch kept them from their ultimate goal, but he led some of the best defenses in franchise history. He’s got undeniable success in the scheme.
Lovie Smith Presided Over Most Successful Bears’ Run in 35 Years
Smith spent three seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams (then the St. Louis Rams) before accepting the position of Bears head coach in 2004, which he held for nine seasons.
He finished his tenure in Chicago with a win/loss record of 81-63. The Bears earned trips to the playoffs in 2005, 2006 and 2010. The team made the NFC Championship Game in ’06 and ’10, as well as a Super Bowl appearance in ’06 that Chicago lost to Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
One year after the franchise fired Smith following the end of the 2012 campaign, he assumed a head coaching position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014. Smith only held that job for two seasons, earning an overall record of 8-24.
Smith spent the next five years as the head coach at the University of Illinois before rejoining the NFL as the defensive coordinator/associate head coach of the Houston Texans in 2021. He served in that capacity for one season, taking over as head coach of the Texans in 2022. The team parted ways with Smith following last season.
Lovie Smith Can Offer Bears Much-Needed Stability in Time of Turmoil
Smith would bring a sense of stability to the Bears organization, even if only immediately in terms of outside perception. However, that’s something the team could desperately use after a 0-2 start, in which opponents have averaged 32.5 points per game and Chicago has lost by an average margin of two touchdowns.
The situation only worsened this week, when former defensive coordinator Alan Williams stepped down citing reasons of health and family. However, more reporting may need to be done before fans and media members can be sure that is all his departure entailed.
Smith presided over the most successful years in Bears history stretching back to the franchise’s sole Super Bowl win following the 1985 season. He has coached either at the NFL or Division I collegiate level every year since 2001, save for 2013.
As Shapiro noted, he sees the game similarly to Eberflus, and Smith’s name alone should inspire some confidence in an exasperated fan base that was expecting the league’s worst team from last season to make meaningful strides in 2023.