Former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith is heading back to Soldier Field this coming season.
After all 32 NFL teams officially released their schedules on May 12, it was revealed the Bears would host the Houston Texans Week 3. Both teams have new head coaches with strong defensive backgrounds, with Matt Eberflus taking the reins from Matt Nagy in Chicago and Smith filling David Culley’s shoes in Houston.
Eberflus, 51, is going to be a first-year head coach in the NFL, while Smith, 64, hasn’t been in the league since 2015, after coaching the University of Illinois football team for the last five years. Smith was one of the most successful coaches in franchise history, coaching the Bears to their last Super Bowl appearance after the 2006 season. He was fired after a 10-6 campaign in 2012 when the Bears missed the playoffs. He went 81-63 during the regular season, and 3-3 in the playoffs over his nine seasons in the Windy City.
Smith also coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two seasons (2014-15), going 8-24 before getting fired. Houston should be the underdog going on the road to Chicago, but Brooks Kubena of the Houston Chronicle predicted Smith and the Texans — who have won eight games over the last two seasons — will eke out a win in the coach’s return to Soldier Field on September 25.
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Bears vs Texans Will Likely Come Down to QB Play
This won’t be the first time Smith will return to Soldier Field to face his former team. When he served as head coach of the Buccaneers from 2014-15, Smith played against the Bears twice. He lost both games, when the Bucs fell in Soldier Field in 2014, 21-17, and again in 2015, when the Bears beat them at Raymond James Stadium, 26-21.
Still, that doesn’t mean this game won’t carry extra weight for the ex-Bears coach, whose dismissal after a winning season still rubs some fans the wrong way.
With two young quarterbacks leading the way for both teams, the Texans-Bears matchup may very well come down to which young signal-caller makes fewer errors. Bears QB Justin Fields and Texans QB Davis Mills are both entering their second seasons, with Mills having a better overall rookie campaign last year.
Fields completed 58.9% of his passes for 1,870 yards, seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions, also rushing for 420 yards and two scores in 12 starts, while Mills was more accurate, finishing with a 66.8 completion percentage, throwing for 2,664 yards, 16 TDs and 10 picks. Mills isn’t anywhere near the threat Fields is with his legs (he had 44 yards rushing in 11 starts), but the 2021 third-round pick performed better than many thought he would.
With both Smith and Eberflus defensive-minded coaches, their Week 3 matchup could very well come down to which QB makes better decisions.
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Complete Bears 2022 Preseason & Regular Season Schedule
The Bears are set to play three nationally-televised prime-time games, and they play back-to-back road games three separate times. They also have a very late bye week.
Here’s a look at Chicago’s complete preseason and regular season schedules (all times are Central Standard Time):
- Game 1 – Saturday, August 13th – vs Kansas City Chiefs – Noon
- Game 2 – Thursday, August 18th – at Seattle Seahawks – 7 PM
- Game 3 – Saturday, August 27th – at Cleveland Browns – 6 PM
- Week 1 – Sunday, September 11th – vs San Francisco 49ers – 12 PM
- Week 2 – Sunday, September 18th – at Green Bay Packers – 7:20 PM
- Week 3 – Sunday, September 25th – vs Houston Texans – 12 PM
- Week 4 – Sunday, October 2nd – at New York Giants – 12 PM
- Week 5 – Sunday, October 9th – at Minnesota Vikings – 12 PM
- Week 6 – Thursday, October 13th – vs Washington Commanders – 7:15 PM
- Week 7 – Monday, October 24th – at New England Patriots – 7:15 PM
- Week 8 – Sunday, October 30th – at Dallas Cowboys – 12 PM
- Week 9 – Sunday, November 6th – vs Miami Dolphins – 12 PM
- Week 10 – Sunday, November 13th – vs Detroit Lions – 12 PM
- Week 11 – Sunday, November 20th – at Atlanta Falcons – 12 PM
- Week 12 – Sunday, November 27th – at New York Jets – 12 PM
- Week 13 – Sunday, December 4th – vs Green Bay Packers – 12 PM
- Week 14 – BYE
- Week 15 – Sunday, December 18th – vs Philadelphia Eagles – 12 PM
- Week 16 – Saturday, December 24th – vs Buffalo Bills – 12 PM
- Week 17 – Sunday, January 1st – at Detroit Lions – 12 PM
- Week 18 – Saturday, Jan. 7th or Sunday, Jan. 8th – vs Minnesota Vikings – Time TBD
The Bears open against two 2021 playoff teams in the 49ers and Packers, and if they should lose both of those games and fall to 0-2, it would make their Week 3 contest against Houston all the more important.