Bears, Lovie agree to extension through 2013


Bears, Lovie agree to extension through 2013

Friday, Feb. 25, 2011Posted: 8:35 a.m. Updated: 10:44 a.m.

By John Mullin

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 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'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.

Bears In-Foe: Vikings defense is Purple People Eaters, Part II

Bears In-Foe: Vikings defense is Purple People Eaters, Part II

It's bad enough that Jay Cutler will be rusty and he may not have Kyle Long and Josh Sitton protecting him. But even if all the Bears' offensive hands were on deck, Monday night's challenge would've been formidable anyway.

The Vikings' defense leads the league in fewest yards allowed (279.5 per game), is tied for the league-lead in allowing fewest points (14.0), third in rushing defense (81.7), fourth in pass defense (197.8), and sixth in third-down defense (34.2 percent). And oh yeah, they lead the league in turnover ratio (plus-11), courtesy of their nine interceptions (tied for second), seven fumble recoveries and 19 sacks (seventh-most in the NFL).

It's nice to have quality and depth up front. That's where that push comes from, especially off the edges, with ends Brian Robison, Everson Griffen and sophomore Danielle Hunter supplying four sacks apiece. That trio combined for 21.5 sacks a year ago (when the Bears totaled 35 as a team). And while injury-prone Sharrif Floyd finds himself sidelined again since the opener, tackle Linval Joseph (three sacks) is back playing at the All-Pro level he was at a year ago before an ankle injury slowed him. And Tom Johnson contributed 6.5 sacks a year ago rotating in with Floyd at three-technique.

[RELATED: Bears In-Foe: Purple a fitting color for Vikings' battered, bruised offense]

Reunited UCLA linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks are in their second year together in a run the Bears will likely have to deal with for another decade. This is the 11th and final year they'll see Chad Greenway, who's more leader than playmaker now in the middle of that defense.

Ryan Pace, Vic Fangio and position coach Ed Donatell must also be jealous of the Vikings' deep defensive backfield. Top cover man Xavier Rhodes, last year's top pick Trae Waynes and Andrew Sendejo have two picks each. Waynes still hasn't taken a job away from ageless 37-year-old Terence Newman. The Vikes were trying to upgrade on Sendejo, who answered the challenge and should be able to play Monday after departing the Eagles game with an ankle injury he suffered almost taking an interception to the house. It's almost unfair that second-round rookie Mackensie Alexander can't even surpass fourth cornerback Captain Munnerlyn for playing time.

But we must not forget Harrison Smith. The humble Golden Domer, humorously nicknamed "Gangsta White Boy" by Adrian Peterson, became the NFL's richest safety by inking a five-year, $51 million deal this summer, is coming off a first Pro Bowl that probably would've come sooner if not for a couple injuries. Two of his four career pick-sixes have come against the Bears, and Pro Football Focus has him as the only safety to grade positively in coverage, run support, and pass rush over each of the last two seasons.

Special teams

Just as Robbie Gould fell under the microscope of the current Bears brass with last season's rough finish, the strong-legged Blair Walsh probably feels a few more eyes on him after missing the 27-yard game-winning attempt in the frigid playoff loss to Seattle. He's 10-of-13 on field goals this season, 11-of-13 on extra points.

But while the Vikings' kickoff coverage was burned by Josh Huff's return Sunday in Philadelphia, the Bears coverage units have to be disciplined and smart against Cordarrelle Patterson and Marcus Sherels. Both have burned the Bears more than once before. With more than his seven kick returns, Patterson's 29.9 average would lead the league. Sherels' 14.6-yard return average on punts ranks third in the NFL. He's already returned two for touchdowns this season after burning the Bears at Soldier Field a year to the day short of Monday's contest.

Bears In-Foe: Purple a fitting color for Vikings' battered, bruised offense

Bears In-Foe: Purple a fitting color for Vikings' battered, bruised offense

Mike Zimmer couldn't hold back his frustration after Sunday's 21-10 loss in Philadelphia.

Realistically, big picture-wise, he should feel fortunate. Not that his team isn't any good. We've seen these Vikings coming for awhile. But his offense, minus so many pieces that have been subtracted due to injuries, hadn't turned the ball over once in its 5-0 start.

That's when Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who'd seen Sam Bradford for all of training camp before he was traded a week before the opener, dialed things up. The result? Four turnovers, including Bradford's first interception of the season, coupled with a pair of fumbles. Schwartz doesn't have as many pieces as the Vikings' defense, but he had enough to sack Bradford six times, deliver 19 hits and 14 knockdowns.

Bradford's managed to step in for Teddy Bridgewater more easily than starting tackles Matt Kalil (hip) and Andre Smith (triceps) have been replaced. T.J. Clemmings is capable after starting all of his rookie season a year ago, but the hope that former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long had anything left took a serious hit Sunday. He'd gone unclaimed for quite a while (even reportedly going through a workout with the Bears), and we saw some of the reasons against the Eagles. He was replaced by journeyman Jeremiah Sirles. The middle of that line seems OK, thanks in part to the free agent signing of guard Alex Boone to anchor the interior with Brandon Fusco and center Joe Berger.

[RELATED: Bears In-Foe: Vikings defense is Purple People Eaters, Part II]

The great Adrian Peterson's torn meniscus in week two has him on injured reserve, with little hope he'll make it back. And while Jerrick McKinnon (3.2 yards per carry) and Matt Asiata (3.3) are serviceable, the line hasn't been able to help those replacements rush for an average of even 75 yards per game (31st in the NFL).

And think about this: Yes, the Bears have played one more game than the Vikings, but they have four receivers who've matched or surpassed the dangerous Stefon Diggs' team-leading total of 27 receptions. Three of Bradford's seven touchdown passes have gone to tight end Kyle Rudolph. Former Illinois High School Player of the Year Laquon Treadwell was targeted to be the big target Bridgewater/Bradford needed, but had just two snaps the first three games and has yet to catch his first NFL pass. It's part of the Zimmer Way to bring along draft picks slowly (think Trae Waynes last year, albeit at a much deeper position on this team). Zimmer's indicated the 23rd overall pick's still too mechanical, still thinking too much at this level to earn snaps over Adam Thielen, Charles Johnson and now, even the once-exiled Cordarrelle Patterson, who scored the Vikings' lone touchdown Sunday on a pass from Bradford.

Like the Bears, this banged-up unit has trouble in the red zone (touchdowns on just 47 percent of their trips inside), and their 21.5 points per game average is boosted by four touchdowns combined from its defense and special teams. It'll be interesting to see if Leonard Floyd, Willie Young and perhaps Pernell McPhee can have themselves a good night next Monday against that susceptible line, and who's able to go among the Bears' defensive backs versus a passing offense that's averaged only 225 yards a game.