Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011
By John Mullin
The inescapable other shoe that comes to mind when word of Miami offering Jim Harbaugh 8 million to coach the Dolphins is whether or not that will drive the Bears to get a contract extension done with Lovie Smith before the bar for coaches who actually have done something in the NFL spirals upwards on the Bears.
General Manager Jerry Angelo and the Bears aren't going to be rushed. Angelo isnt ruling out adding years to the one more Smith has on his deal, but Smith already is at 5.5 million and the Bears arent desperate, like the Miami Dolphins are.
Desperateness drives people to do things they maybe normally wouldnt have done, Angelo said Thursday. Its a supply and demand business but we dont let that rule our thinking. We can only look at what we do, our parameters, how we build and how we go forward with our philosophy...
Well have a plan in place when the time comes.
But the specter of a work stoppage has frozen some teams planning, it was a factor in Smith being brought back for the 2010 season, and the Bears simply have no reason in the current market to extend a contract already in the upper echelon of coaching salaries.
After describing the current Bears team as not the most talented but the best team hes had, Angelo put on hold any public declaration of direction with respect to Smiths situation.
That is understandable and the right course. Angelo created a mess for himself when he said late in the 2001 season that he and the Bears would be working to extend the contract of Dick Jauron. While that may have been a strategy to make any subsequent impasse appear to be on Jauron, it also committed to the Bears to a course that became distasteful for them after the Bears proceeded to lose in the divisional playoff round following a bye week.
The indication now is that the Bears will wait at least until after the playoffs before moving, or not, on Smith.
The one thing weve done a pretty job of and I know its clich-ish but clichs are there for a reason we have really focused on each and every week, Angelo said. I think thats critical in football. Weve really stayed that course and we will continue to stay that course. When the seasons over, and hopefully thats not going to be for a while, then we will address all those things.
We always do what you need to do to take care of your business and Im going to leave it at that. Right now our focus is on this upcoming game and finishing the job.
Lovie performance appraisal
Smith in all likelihood was gone if the Bears had not reached this postseason or at least turned in a playoff-grade record where it was no fault of their own that they did not reach the playoffs.
But along with the 11-5 record, Smith restored something important for the organization.
In our business, its all about credibility and I felt we lost some credibility, Angelo said. We did. It just goes with the territory. We werent getting the job done.
But in terms of how I felt about Lovie, how I feel about the staff, Ive always felt good about that. But the bottom line is the bottom line. Youve got to win football games; youve got to win your division. That s what creates credibility. Its not personality. Its not how I feel about anybody. That is the bottom line. And thats how credibility is. Its not a testament to your character, its a testament to your wins and youve got to win football games and we all understand that.
What about you, Jerry?
At least one report has circulated that Angelo himself would step down from his post after this season, particularly if the finish comes with a Super Bowl ring. Not so.
I dont know why thats important to anybody, Angelo said. Ive heard it; its no big deal. The only one thats happy to hear that is my wife. But thats not going to happen. Im very fortunate to be here and as long as Im blessed with health, Ill continue to do what I love and thats being part of football.
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.