Bears

Lovie firing: A decision made for obvious reasons

973103.png

Lovie firing: A decision made for obvious reasons

Lovie Smith went into the 2012 season in need of a rebound from the franchise disappointment of 2011 that saw a 7-3 start crumble into an 8-8 year. What he and the Bears got was an even more catastrophic collapse, from 7-1 and the No. 2 spot in a playoff lineup to out of the playoffs at 10-6.The result was the end to a nine-year run that included only one trip to a Super Bowl, another to an NFC Championship game and one other to the playoffs and only one year with fewer than seven wins.
RELATED: Smith firing -- A downward spiraling timeline
But evaluations by organizations are based less on the past than on perceptions of where the future is leading. Several reasons lay at the root of the Bears decision to close the Lovie Smith epoch and go in the proverbial another direction:Simple need for change of directionGeorge McCaskey succeeded brother Michael as chairman of the board prior to the 2011 season. The transition was seamless, orderly and in the natural organizational order. Michael had held the job since the death of his father Ed and he was ready to cede the office while remaining on the board of directors.The course of the 2011 season was such that Jerry Angelo was fired after the collapse from 7-3 to 8-8. Ted Phillips remained as president but the organization was clearly not satisfied with what had occurred on the field. Key in the decision was the conclusion that the Bears were losing ground rather than gaining on the Green Bay Packers and (at the time) Detroit Lions.The season-turning injuries to Jay Cutler and Matt Forte factored into Smith keeping his job, and the blame was assigned to Angelo for failing to sufficiently shore up the roster.
RELATED: Cutler "sorry" he couldn't help Smith more
Fast forward to 2012 and another two inept performances against Green Bay and one against the Minnesota Vikings, the new upstarts in the NFC.

Failures on offenseSince Mike Ditka left after 1992, the Bears have had three consecutive coaches from defensive backgrounds: Dave Wannstedt, defensive coordinator in Dallas; Dick Jauron, Jacksonville defensive coordinator, and Smith, coordinator of the St. Louis defense.Smith has been by far the most successful. But even for him the result has been just one losing trip to a Super Bowl, one other to a loss (to Green Bay) in the 2010 NFC Championship game, and a first-round loss in the 2005 divisional round.The biggest single reason was Smiths problems finding an offensive coordinator, or at least recently one who could co-exist with Cutler. The offense never ranked higher than 15th in yardage in Smiths tenure.More to the immediate situation, the offense got worse despite the efforts of Phil Emery to supply the wide-receiver firepower that Jay Cutler supposedly needed. Emery mortgaged a piece of the future by giving up two third-round picks for Brandon Marshall and used a second-rounder in 2012 for Alshon Jeffery.Yet the offense degenerated into the Cutler-Marshall show and closed out of town.The revolving college of coordinators on offense accelerated with the 1009 arrival of Cutler -- Ron Turner out after 2009, Mike Martz after 2011, Mike Tice one-and-done in 2012. The franchises commitment to Cutler remains to be seen this offseason but in a league that tilts toward facilitating offense, the Smith Bears have failed.Big-game failuresSmith achieved a 3-3 record in the postseason. Since the 2006 trip to the Super Bowl he was 1-1, both in the 2010 playoffs.That is a better mark than Mike Ditka in his post-Super Bowl XX time. Ditka was 2-5 with three first-game eliminations and was fired in after a 5-11 meltdown in 1992.But Smiths time is marred by a handful of bad defeats with the playoffs at stake.

RELATED: Only a deep postseason run would have saved Lovie's job

The Bears fell to the Houston Texans (7-8 at the time) in the final game of 2008 when a win would have had them in the playoffs. And while the Minnesota Vikings might still have beaten the Green Bay Packers to squeeze past the Bears into the 2012 playoffs, Smiths team failed to beat a doormat in the Detroit Lions (4-11) when it mattered.The Detroit game mattered because the Bears defense, Smiths signature unit, failed to halt two long touchdown drives to lose the Seattle game. That was followed by losses at Minnesota and to Green Bay at home when either would have allowed the Bears to keep control of their own playoff future.

2021 NFL Draft: Top WR prospect Rashod Bateman opts out of 2020 season

2021 NFL Draft: Top WR prospect Rashod Bateman opts out of 2020 season

NFL players aren't the only ones who are choosing to opt out of the 2020 football season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. College players are too, including top prospects for the 2021 NFL Draft.

First, it was Caleb Farley, the talented Virginia Tech cornerback who's projected to be a first-round pick. Now, it's Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman, who has a chance to be the first pass-catcher selected in next April's draft.

Bateman finished the 2019 season with 60 catches for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns and was slated to be QB Tanner Morgan's top target in a year that he would've challenged LSU's Ja'marr Chase to be the most coveted wide receiver in the country.

Bateman's decision to opt out of the season shouldn't hurt his draft stock all that much. He doesn't have a significant injury history and with more time to train for the NFL Combine and his pro day (assuming he has one), he should test exceptionally well at an estimated 6'2 and 210 pounds.

Report: NFL, NFLPA close to signing updated CBA with COVID-19 conditions

Report: NFL, NFLPA close to signing updated CBA with COVID-19 conditions

The NFL could be one step closer to returning, soon. According to Ian Rapoport, the NFL and NFLPA are close to signing their updated collective bargaining agreement for playing in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two sides agreed to a new CBA back in March but came back to the table to revise after the global pandemic hit the United States hard.

This news comes after the NFLPA player representatives voted 29-3 in favor of the changes on Friday.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Bears news and analysis.

The new deal allows for 16-man practice squads, no preseason games for 2020, and high-risk and voluntary opt-outs for players. According to Tom Pelissero, high-risk players who opt out will receive a $350,000 stipend. Voluntary opt-outs for non-high-risk players will receive a $150,000 salary advance. Contracts will toll in each case, meaning it will be treated as a regular year of service time.

According to Ian Rapoport, training camp will now include a 20-day ramp-up period with no more than 14 padded practices.

In addition, Rapoport reports that rosters will need to be trimmed down to 80 players by Aug. 16, and no more than 80 people will be allowed in team buildings at a time.

"The NFL clubs and the NFL Players Association approved an agreement that broadly resolves all outstanding issues relating to the opening of training camps and start of the 2020 season," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "Training camps will begin as scheduled.

"We have worked collaboratively to develop a comprehensive set of protocols designed to minimize risk for fans, players, and club and league personnel. These plans have been guided by the medical directors of the NFL and the NFLPA and have been reviewed and endorsed by independent medical and public health experts, including the CDC, and many state and local public health officials.

“The season will undoubtedly present new and additional challenges, but we are committed to playing a safe and complete 2020 season, culminating with the Super Bowl."


RELATED: Success of Bears' coronavirus 'bubble' rests on player responsibility

SUBSCRIBE TO THE UNDER CENTER PODCAST FOR FREE.