The Lovie Smith firing: A downward spiraling timeline

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The Lovie Smith firing: A downward spiraling timeline

The 2012 season and its fall from 7-1 to out of the playoffs was the proximate cause of Lovie Smiths dismissal. Smiths tenure was marked with its share of highlights but also with some significant disappointments:
2004 5-11After negotiations break down to land Nick Saban, Smith is chosen over Russ Grimm to succeed Dick Jauron. He hires Terry Shea as offensive coordinator and inherits a dismal quarterback situation involving Chad Hutchinson, Craig Krenzel and Jonathan Quinn.In an ominous foreshadowing, 2003 No. 1 pick and anticipated starting quarterback Rex Grossman is injured and lost for the season a week after beating the Packers and Brett Favre in Green Bay. The Bears arguably never adequately solve their quarterback situation through Smiths tenure.
2005 11-5Smith replaces Shea with Ron Turner as offensive coordinator, who ran the Bears offense under Dave Wannstedt before leaving to coach Illinois in 1997. Grossman goes down with a broken ankle in preseason and Turner goes to fourth-round rookie Kyle Orton.Bears hit bottom at 1-3 after loss in Cleveland, then win eight straight with suffocating defense under Lance Briggs, Mike Brown, Tommie Harris, Charles Tillman and Brian Urlacher. Drafting Cedric Benson spurs Thomas Jones to 1,335-yard rushing season. Grossman returns from his leg injury late in the year but season ends with first-round home loss to Carolina.
2006 13-3Bears reach the playoffs for the second time in Smiths first three seasons. Defense again dominates and Grossman has seven games of 100-plus passer ratings, Benson and Jones each average 4.1 yards per carry and the Bears post their only 400-point season (427) under Smith. Breakdowns on offense and defense doom Bears against Indianapolis in the Super Bowl.Ron Rivera is let go as defensive coordinator after philosophical differences with Smith, and Bob Babich takes over as defensive coordinator.
2007 7-9Smith receives a contract extension for four years and 22 million that moves him into the upper (5 million-plus) tier for head-coach salaries.But the quarterback maelstrom returns. Grossman starts the first three games (1-2), Brian Griese starts the next six (3-3), Grossman the next four (1-3) and finally Orton for the final three (2-1).
2008 9-7Bears go to Houston and lose to 7-8 Texans to finish 9-7 when a victory would have allowed them to leapfrog 9-6-1 Philadelphia into the playoffs. In the aftermath, Kyle Orton and two No. 1 draft choices are traded to Denver for Jay Cutler.
2009 7-9Brian Urlacher is lost for the year with a wrist injury in the first half of the first game but the Bears still start 3-1 before a spiral of six losses in seven games dooms the season.The decision is made to keep Smith as head coach before a 31-7 crushing in Baltimore on Dec. 20. The decision stands after the Bears win their final two but Turner and most of the offensive staff are fired post-season after differences with Cutler widen. Mike Martz is hired as offensive coordinator after Bears lose out on several top college candidates because of scheduling and recruiting.
2010 11-5A game-16 loss to Green Bay will haunt Smith and the organization. With playoff position clinched, veterans are rested and the Packers slip past New York and Tampa Bay for the No. 6 seed. Bears get past 7-9 Seattle in the divisional round but Cutler suffers knee injury and is out for the second half. Green Bay goes to the Super Bowl after Bears mistakes on offense (B.J. Raji TD interception, failed third-down conversions) finishPerhaps most fateful: Caleb Hanie relieves Todd Collins and does enough for Mike Martz and the organization to move forward with him as Cutlers backup in 2011.
2011 8-8After Smith orders the offense to return to balance mindset with Mike Tices role again expanded, Bears reach 7-3 with a run of five straight wins. Cutler fractures his right thumb in game 10, Bears lose five straight and miss the postseason.Low points are reached with 3 points scored against the Kansas City Chiefs and in Denver when Marion Barber runs out of bounds to help the Broncos tie in regulation and then fumbles in overtime, leading to winning field goal.Jerry Angelo is fired as general manager, replaced by former Bears scout and Kansas City college scouting director Phil Emery.
2012 10-6Addressing the passing offense, Emery trades for Cutler favorite Brandon Marshall, OKs hiring Jeremy Bates as QB position coach and drafts Alshon Jeffery in the second round. Smith states during the NFL Scouting Combine that the offensive line, with promising rookie Gabe Carimi back from injury, and JMarcus Webb are sufficient at left tackle and that Kellen Davis is capable of top-shelf play at tight end. The offense is a disaster area.A 7-1 start evaporates in a succession of inept offensive performances. Defensive stumbles against San Francisco and Seattle against inexperienced quarterbacks raise eyebrows and red flags. Then the Bears cannot get past Minnesota and Green Bay in the final weeks.

How Bears are using veteran videos to school rookies on NFL way

How Bears are using veteran videos to school rookies on NFL way

This week marks the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end, depending on how you want to look at organized team activities (OTA’s), the third stage of the NFL offseason culminating in the mandatory minicamp June 13-15. Teams are allowed a total of 10 OTA sessions, giving coaches a final look at players before the break until training camp convenes in late July.

The sessions also mark the first time that the players, who were finishing college semesters this time a year ago, will be introduced to the REAL NFL, the professionals already part of the August fraternity to which the draft picks and undrafted free agents aspire.

Well, maybe it's not the true first time some of the rookies will “meet” the pros.

During the brief rookie minicamp, offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn did as all the coaches do: show his position group the film of them going through their drills. In the interest of accelerating the young players’ learning curve, however, Washburn went a step further.

[MORE: Bears QB coach Dave Ragone doesn't mind his type of turnover]

He followed the rookie film with the same drills being run by the pros, meaning the rookies could see how Kyle Long, Charles Leno, Josh Sitton, Cody Whitehair and other vets did those same drills.

The difference was startling – as Washburn intended. The kids were being shown a new meaning for what they might have thought was “maximum effort.”

“That’s one thing coach ‘Wash and coach Ben [Wilkerson] have really been pushing to us — just making sure we’re doing everything to maximum effort, and always finishing near the ball,” said rookie lineman Jordan Morgan. “I feel like that’s stuff you hear at every level of football, but more so now, especially, it being the NFL.”

Rules limit the amount of work allowed vs. opposition, meaning how much Morgan might learn by going against a Leonard Floyd, Eddie Goldman or Pernell McPhee. But learning the every-play intensity at the NFL level may be difficult to comprehend for players who’ve obviously seen it done this hard before.

“The way the veteran guys run [the drills] is the way you’re supposed to do it,” Washburn said. “There’s a style of play, a work ethic you have to put into this. You can’t just get away with things because the guy in front of you is as good or better than you are.

“Scheme-wise, that has not been a problem, the way it has been with some rookies I’ve had in the past. It’s the day-to-day intensity and focus you have to put in for 16 weeks. That is a big adjustment.”

The NFL is replete with examples of college players arriving with elite physical abilities but not taking effort and learning intensity to the professional level. The Bears used the No. 8 overall pick of the 2001 draft on wide receiver David Terrell, who’d dominated on raw ability at the college level but never developed beyond a mid-level wideout.

Washburn saw something similar while coaching offensive line for the Detroit Lions.

“I had a rookie guard in Detroit who ate Hot Pockets and played video games at night,” Washburn recalled. “His rookie year he got by, played OK, but then had a big slump his sophomore year and said, ‘I gotta change my ways.’

“He absolutely changed everything and now he’s an absolute pro.”

If Bears rookies do anything video with their nights, Washburn intends for those videos to be the ways the pros do it

Why Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh will be 'pulling hard' for the Bears this season

Why Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh will be 'pulling hard' for the Bears this season

Jim Harbaugh is a former Chicago Bear, but that's not the main reason why he'll be rooting for the Monsters of the Midway this fall.

Harbaugh, the current Michigan head coach and former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, used to coach alongside current Bears assistants Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell in the Bay Area.

Fangio, the Bears' defensive coordiantor, and Donatell, the Bears' defensive backs coach, held those same positions for all four of Harbaugh's seasons leading the Niners.

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Harbaugh voiced his support for his former assistants Monday, speaking with CSN's Pat Boyle at the Golf.Give.Gala golf outing in St. Charles.

"I know (the Bears) are going to have a heck of a defense," Harbaugh said. "Because I know they've got Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell and a tremendous coaching staff. So I'll be pulling hard for them."

Harbaugh also was asked about new Bears quarterback Mike Glennon, and you can hear his comments in the video above, as well as comments from Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer on another new Bears quarterback, Mitch Trubisky.