Lovie comfortable with future in Chicago

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Lovie comfortable with future in Chicago

Monday, Jan. 3, 2011
3:04 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

It wasnt immediately clear Monday whether Lovie Smith was addressing the media, his supporters, general fans, his critics (some crossover there, obviously), or Bears management. Probably all of them.

Smith will not be among the coaching casualties this season, not after an 11-5 season and return to the playoffs after three seasons of only 16 games. Wade Phillips in Dallas, Minnesotas Brad Childress, Mike Singletary in San Francisco, Eric Mangini in Cleveland (after exactly two seasons), and quite likely Tom Cable in Oakland, Miamis Tony Sparano and John Fox in Carolina, Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati.

A year ago there was no doubt that Smith was returning for 2010 but make no mistake: 2011 was very much in question. Now 2011 is set, has been for quite some time, and best guess is that Smith will receive an extension, possibly of two years beyond 2011, if the Bears reach the Super Bowl.

That may not happen until labor issues are closer to resolution. But even that began breaking in Smiths favor Monday when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to 5 million fans declaring, I know we can and will reach an agreement.

So it wasnt at all surprising that Smith was visibly comfortable not only with the podium at which he was standing, again, and with the prospects of being there for more than just an annual, year-to-year referendum on his coaching.

Its where Ive been standing for seven years so I dont know what else to say, Smith said. Ive been in this position a few years. I love being here and plan on being here for a long time.

And more than once he gave his No. 1 reason, indirectly addressing what President Ted Phillips set forth as the franchises demand of Smith for 2010, that the team be moving significantly in the right direction.

In Smiths mind, it absolutely has been and is:

the guys have showed up each week, he said, which speaks to coaching preparedness, and were a good defensive team like were a good football team.

Talking about whether there are teams he would like or not like to play in the postseason (there are), the good football team theme was there again.

Were a good football team, Smith said. This time of the year, the teams that are in the playoffs are good football teams. The match-up is pretty good, pretty balanced no matter who you play.

Hurtful time

Mondays after final regular-season games arent especially upbeat in general when you look around the NFL and see the coaching careers that are hearing the snap of the gallows. No matter how inevitable it is or how obvious the changes might be, its never a truly happy day when someone loses a job. (Those of us whove gone through it can relate.)

So can Lovie Smith, who a year ago took his place over the trap door when his team missed the playoffs for the third straight year and a fourth was very likely going to be his last in Chicago. He and his team responded with their 11-5 performance.

Youre not happy about that, Smith said. In any profession, youre not happy about anyone losing their job. Anyone with a family, providing for their family, losing their job. But in our profession we realize whats at stake when we come in. Its pretty simple. Its about wins and losses. In the end it comes down to that and we all realize that.

There will be some good football coaches that will lose their jobs but there will be good football coaches thatll get other jobs too. To make it this far and be leading an NFL franchise, its saying quite a bit about yourself. Thats part of the profession, the business and we know it.

Talking ball

After my weekly visit with central Illinois on WFMB-AM SportsRadio 1450 this afternoon at 4:40, Ill join Kap and Chicago Tribune Live on Comcast SportsNet at 5:30 and then finish off with our regular Monday on-line chat on CSNChicago.com, this week at 7:15 p.m. instead of 7. Looking forward to some football bidness.

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.

Complete Bears-49ers coverage on CSN

Complete Bears-49ers coverage on CSN

The Bears try to get a third win in 2016 when they host the 49ers, and CSN has you covered.

Check out a schedule of Sunday's events:

— Meijer Bears Pregame Live with Lance Briggs, Alex Brown, Jim Miller and Chris Boden airs at 11 a.m. on CSN.

— Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Bears Halftime Live streaming live on CSNChicago.com and ChicagoBears.com.

— State Farm Bears Postgame Live airing immediately after the game on CSN.

Important Twitter follows:

— John "Moon" Mullin (@CSNMoonMullin), CSNChicago

— Bears Talk (@CSNBears), CSNChicago

— Kip Lewis (@CSNKipLewis), CSNChicago

— Chris Boden (@CSNBoden), CSNChicago

The 3 Bears necessities for win No. 3

The 3 Bears necessities for win No. 3

Insert title of this "Bowl" game here...

Two teams. Three wins combined. December. So much for holiday cheer. The snow may provide a certain Christmas element on the lakefront Sunday. But something different has to happen for the Bears defensively. In their spirit of giving, the 49ers have allowed a league-high 76 points off their turnovers. Problem is, the Bears have just eight of them in eleven games. If that San Francisco generosity doesn't change – either by Vic Fangio's defense finally making plays despite the core of their defense missing, or by the visitors finding a way to protect the ball in those conditions after practicing in Orlando all week – it's a golden chance for the Bears to gain a smidge of momentum before becoming a factor in the division race (because they face all three other NFC North contenders in their final four games).

1. Read zone read

Colin Kaepernick has grown much more comfortable with time in Chip Kelly's offense. He had the Dolphins hanging on for dear life until the clock struck zero last week. He became just the sixth quarterback in league history to pass for three touchdowns in a game while rushing for over 100 (no, Bobby Douglass isn't one). The challenge becomes greater minus the talented inside linebacker tandem of Danny Trevathan (injury) and Jerrell Freeman (suspension). It becomes even greater if Leonard Floyd's quickness and speed is taken away as a shadowing option as he recovers from being carried off the field on a flat board two weeks ago. He's listed as questionable. So that makes it imperative for inside replacements John Timu and Nick Kwiatkowski to find a way to be instinctive while remaining disciplined enough to contain the league's best rushing quarterback by yards per attempt (8.1).

2. Don't stray from the run

Give this Niners defense without NoVorro Bowman and Eric Reid enough opportunities to be gashed, and they'll let you. Too many times the pregame formula has been for Jordan Howard to get the ball, only to find reasons not to – whether it's looking at the clock while trailing by double digits, too much traffic at the line of scrimmage or panic after injuries up front (to name a few). The 172 rushing yards per game allowed by San Francisco is the worst in eight years (Detroit).  Howard's 5.14 average gain per attempt is fifth in the NFL. Enough said.

3. Catch the ball!!!

Okay, Marquess, Josh and Deonte. Okay, Cam, Jordan and Jeremy. Okay Daniel (and/or Eddie?). We know conditions might be a little slick if it's snowing/sleeting/raining. You're supposed to be among the best in the world at what you do, even if you're down the original depth chart. Can you get your mitts on the football and hang on to it this week? Help your guy Matt out a little bit? After all, if you cut last week's nightmare in half, and maybe you're shooting for (oooh!) a fourth win Sunday, not a third.

Get set for Sunday's noon kickoff at 11 a.m. on CSN as ex-Bears Jim Miller, Lance Briggs and Alex Brown join Chris on "Bears Preagme Live." Then as soon as the second quarter ends, come back here to CSNChicago.com, where Jim and Chris break down the first 30 minutes and go over second half adjustments. And finally, when the game goes final on Fox, switch immediately back to CSN as Chris and the three former Bears give you 90 minutes of reaction, analysis, live press conferences and locker room interviews on "Bears Postgame Live."