Bears, Lovie agree to extension through 2013

Bears, Lovie agree to extension through 2013
February 25, 2011, 2:41 pm
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Friday, Feb. 25, 2011Posted: 8:35 a.m. Updated: 10:44 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Bears like to think of their organization as family, the McCaskey-Halas foundation and all that. But Lovie Smith has taken that to the next level.

The agent for Smiths new two-year extension was concluded by none other than son Matthew Smith, a second-year Loyola University law student, building on the work done by agent Frank Bauer in the course of Smiths initial contract and 2007 extension.

That previous extension involved a substantial increase in compensation and was somewhat more difficult to conclude than the one announced Friday.

I cant remember back that far 2007, Smith deadpanned. When youre 52, you start forgetting a lot of things. I know I signed a contract back then. I know the contract this time was an easy agreement for my agent Matthew Smith to make. It went along smoothly.

I feel very comfortable having three years on my contract. Thats plenty of time. I feel comfortable having all of us being connected together as far as the length of our contracts. Again, Im excited. Its exactly what I wanted.

The Bears extended Smiths contract through the 2013 season, as CSNChicago.com reported was imminent earlier this week. The extension places Smith and GM Jerry Angelo on the same expiration timetable.

Financial details werent immediately available but Smith will be among the top 10 NFL coaching salaries, above 5 million coming off two NFC Championship game appearances in the last five seasons and three NFC North division titles in the last six.

The new contract follows extensions for offensive line coach Mike Tice and other assistants, assuring staff continuity for next couple of seasons.

Of course I feel great about the extension like I have every day Ive been on the job as head coach of the Chicago Bears, Smith said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine Its a great organization, we have great players that come to work every day. We have an excellent coaching staff. Im in position to be here and of course get that extension because of what the staff has done. They all did a great job.

But were all excited about this next step. Jerry and I worked together well, not just during our time here in Chicago but in Tampa also. We feel like we have a good combination going and we look forward to taking the next step.

Winning tradition

Smith ranks behind only George Halas (318) and Mike Ditka (106) in victories with 63 and his .562 winning percentage trails only those two in franchise history as well.

The new deal marks the second extension for Smith, a first-time head coach when he succeeded Dick Jauron after the 2003 season. The Bears extended Smiths contract after the 2006 Super Bowl run, more than doubling his pay at that point. He survived three straight seasons out of the playoffs after that, was retained after the 7-9 record in 2009 and rewarded the organization with an 11-5 season and a trip to the playoffs that ended with a loss in Soldier Field to the eventual Super Bowl champions, the Green Bay Packers.

Smiths three division titles since 2005 are the second-most in the NFC (Seattle, four) and tied for fifth-most in the NFL. Since 2005, the Bears are one of just two teams in the NFC (Atlanta) to post three 11-plus win seasons.

Smith has a regular season coaching record of 63-49 and is 3-3 in the postseason (66-52 overall).

The Big Sandy, Texas native was named the Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year for 2005 after becoming the fastest head coach in Bears history to lead the team to a division title. He joined Mike Ditka as the only other coach in franchise history to lead the team to consecutive division titles (2005, 2006) and is the first coach in team history to reach the playoffs in two of his first three seasons with the club.

Under Smith, the Bears own a 26-16 regular season record against NFC North opponents and have posted a regular season winning record against all three teams in the division. Chicago is 10-4 against Detroit and 8-6 against both Green Bay and Minnesota.

Since Smith became the 13th head coach in franchise history in 2004, Chicagos defense leads the NFL in takeaways (235), opponent third-down efficiency (33.8), highest percentage of three-and-out drives forced (26.6) and stuffs (398). The Bears defense ranks second in the NFL in interceptions (137) and fumble recoveries (98), 3rd in the Aikman Efficiency Ratings for defense (78.8) and fourth in total points allowed (19.2) since 2004.

Smith is tied for the second-longest tenure in the NFC (Tom Coughlin, N.Y. Giants) and the tied for the fifth-longest tenure in the NFL.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.