Category Archives: Fire Lovie Smith

Last

I did you all a favor and did something over the holiday.  I scoured the web for any prediction that had Illinois NOT finishing dead last in the Big Ten West.  How do you think I did?  That’s right, I couldn’t find ONE prediction that had the Illini in any other place than last.  Because we have Lovie and he will resurrect the program and stuff.  Or something.

Some good news, however – my “Fire Lovie Smith” tag is re-usable from his Bears days so at least I am saved that tiny bit of labor.

Meanwhile, you get a cool 150-1 for Illinois to win the Big Ten Title, only “bested” by Rutgers at 250-1.  I always laugh at these futures odds.  That Illinois bet should be at least a thousand to one if not more.  For Illinois to win the Big Ten every other team except perhaps Purdue and Rutgers would have to go down in a plane crash or get hit by a meteor.

Anyways, looking forward to another great year of football from Champaign.

Lovely

I watched this presser by Lovie the other day and had a few thoughts:

Well, Lovie is still Lovie, that is for sure. Deadpan, monotone, fatherly in a way. He had some pretty funny answers in this presser, if you have the time to watch. He is likely seeing a lot of his old press buddies from the Bear days in that room and you can tell he is pretty comfortable.

I have thought about this hiring a lot over the Summer and besides the fact that we are soaking the Buccanneers for half of his salary for the first two years (awesome!), I think it was a good thing for the program. Even if we do some crap 3-9 or 4-8 deal this year, everyone will give Lovie some more time for having to pick up the pieces (and there are many) of the Tim Beckman era. I know that later this year when we are in a close game and Lovie wastes a time out or calls a dumb challenge I will probably go outside and toss my cocktail into the lawn (hey, I have to vent somehow), but the stability and presence he will bring will be a good thing. No more coaches shouting at each other on the sidelines, no more dumb bench penalties. Just Lovie. God help us.

One interesting side note for the blog will be seeing if the “Fire Lovie Smith” tag in the bubble graphic on the side will get larger than the “Fire Ron Turner” one. That is how terrible my life is.

Chief Illoviewek

So you all know by now that Lovie Smiff is now the head coach of the Illinois football team. What a weird deal.

The new AD fires Cubes on his first day and gives Groce the dreaded “vote of confidence”. Expect to see a pink slip for Groce in the near future.

While the ax was falling on Cubes, we had recruits on campus and Spring Practices were supposed to start soon. That has been delayed.

But you know, none of this typical Illinois handling of athletic department things really matters. The fact of the matter is that Cubes was always a place holder, and it was good to start over (again), even though we now have yet another coach (and his son) sucking on the buyout teat. Sigh.

The first thing I did when I heard of the hiring of Lovie was take a giant shot of whiskey. But after thinking about it, I imagine that our new AD, Josh Whitman, wanted to make a splash and just get all the old people OUT and start over.

I don’t think this is the worst thing in the world, although we can certainly begin preparations for losing our challenges, of course. And since in the short term we will be getting beaten as usual like a red-headed stepchild, Lovie won’t have the opportunity to screw up the end of the game with poor clock management. And as long as he refrains from putting the band back together and hiring YOU KNOW WHO as his offensive coordinator, it can’t really be all that bad. Can it? So what if we go from also-ran to also-ran. That was our destiny with Cubes anyways.

As always, we here at frt are prepared. We NEVER delete our story tags, and now we can just get right back in the game with our “Fire Lovie Smith” tag. Always, always be prepared.

Bears vs. Bucs

The season keeps sulking to a close with more team tryouts for the Bears today in the game of the week against the Bucs. If nothing else, we will get to relive the days of Lovie burning up timeouts for no apparent reason.

All Defense

Well, the Bears didn’t exactly make a huge splash in free agency, but I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. I am happy with what has been done so far.

The contract given Suh by the Dolphins is likely going to go down as the worst contract for a team in the history of the NFL. It will literally cripple the Dolphins for the next half decade at a minimum – all to sign a guy who isn’t even the best DT in the league. It has to be all marketing because I (and a bunch of guys smarter than me) can’t figure out any other way this deal makes sense for Miami. Thank god our current GM is a bit smarter than that. Just watch – the Dolphins will have to restructure that deal. Every. Single. Year. And it will kill them on the cap.

But you know what? F!ck the Dolphins. Let’s talk about the Bears.

So far we got what most are considering a pretty good deal for Pernell McPhee. This is an obvious play to try to get the Bears defense back into shape and will give us a much needed pass rusher for the new 3-4 we will be installing. Lets hope we see a lot of this next year.

McPhee describes himself as “violent” and lets be real – we definitely didn’t see enough violence out of the Bears horrible D last year.

We also took a flyer on Ray McDonald. Ray has some baggage – a domestic violence charge that was dropped and a sexual assault charge that is ongoing. He is actually suing the woman who made the sexual assault charge so we will see how this all ends up. We only signed him to a one year deal so I am good with it. Supposedly Pace had to clear all of this with George McCaskey and Ma before the signing.

McPhee and McDonald both come from fierce, successful defenses. I expect McPhee to make an instant impact. McDonald is older, but having him in the locker room will certainly help with the new maniacs from the SEC and PAC 12 that we will soon be drafting for that side of the ball. Both of these guys on the team will hopefully start to instill a “kill” mentality.

The Bears also gave Zach Miller and Dante Rosario deals. As I predicted (for once) the Bears are being smart and will bring both into camp to compete for the backup spot behind the Black Unicorn at TE.

We also signed Antrel Rolle. Again, an older player, but one that is a good enough upgrade in the secondary and will bring much needed experience. Thank God Chris Conte is gone. As an interesting aside, Lovie is putting the band back together in Tampa, signing Conte, Major Wright and Henry Melton. Have fun with that, Tampa fans.

Jarvis Jenkins was brought over from the Redskins on a one year “prove it” deal. More shoring up of the D. I like the move – we got him on the minimum, surprisingly. He will compete for a starting spot on the line for sure.

I am sure he was brought in to make up for the departure of Paea. I was surprised that the Bears didn’t make a harder move for Paea, but at this point we can’t really criticize much Pace and Fox are doing compared to previous regimes. Then again, the bar is set pretty low.

There really wasn’t much to report on the offensive side of the ball (besides the Miller and Rosario deals) during free agency – yet, anyways.

I think Pace is doing a fine job so far, targeting players who he thinks may be undervalued (Jenkins) and taking a chance on McDonald. Time will tell.

So Long Lance and Looking To The Future

The way that I get most of my news about Bears personnel is watching the transactions wire.  You can see it here.

Rather than taking what is speculated upon in the press or “scooped” by unreliable reporters, you can always look at the transactions listing with confidence.  It is like math; the transactions listing is always black and white and doesn’t have an opinion.  It is an open book for all to see and a teller of truth.

The most recent transaction was to place Lance Briggs on IR, which basically means that his season is over, and by extension, his career with the Bears.  Lance got paid $4.75mm this year, plus a $500k roster bonus and $250k workout bonus.  He is one of the highest paid linebackers in the league.  But…he is 34, and now has 11 seasons under his belt.  He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year.

The only way I can see Briggs coming back with the Bears is if he takes a veteran minimum type of contract, but I doubt that will happen.  In fact, I am 75% sure that Briggs will just hang it up.  He has had a fantastic run and I imagine his body must be begging him for a break.  Time for him to pick up a cush job endorsing some used car lot and making appearances on the Score for some extra bucks.  While we are talking about moving on, I thought I would look at the Bears current roster and discuss the future a bit.

But before we get there, look at the transaction right before Briggs being put on IR.  Brian de la Puente goes on IR as well.  Damn our O line is just not deep enough, again.  Anyways…

Here are the guys that I am 100% sure will be back with the team next year in no particular order:

Defense***:

Jared Allen, David Bass, Jon Bostic, Chrstian Jones, Brock Vereen, Kyle Fuller, Ego Ferguson, Will Sutton, Stephen Paea, Tim Jennings, Cornelius Washington (be prepared to see him possibly go on IR as well)

Offense:

Martellus Bennett, Jermon Bushrod, Alshon Jeffery, Kyle Long, Jordan Mills

Specials:

Robbie Gould, Pat O’Donnell

You will note some interesting names off the list, first and foremost being Cutler.  While he did just sign the deal, there are always things you can do to get out of the deal, and/or soften the blow on the cap – if the Bears can find a trading partner.  But this goes back to what the long term vision of the upper management is.  If they decide to ride this current staff out with their contracts, expect to see Cutler and Trestman back at Soldier field next year.  If they decide to blow up things sooner, rather than later, you might see the following:

Cutler shopped, and Forte offered a new deal, or cut.  Forte’s scheduled pay for next year is $6.65mm salary, plus $1.05mm roster bonus plus $100k workout bonus.  If the Bears release him, it is only a $1mm dead money hit.  With the market for running backs tanking the way that is has been with so many busts around the league, Forte has a decision to make.  Take a restructure, or get cut.  That is, if the Bears management is thinking soundly.  Don’t get me wrong – I love Forte.  But that position just isn’t worth this sort of money when you can liekely get a crazed SEC lunatic RB in the draft, pay him 20% of what Forte is making and get likely 85% of that production on the field.  Then, use the new draftee up, cut him before the rookie deal is up, and get a new one.  That is the new reality of the running back position – and Carl called this years ago to his credit.

I am also not 100% sure that Marshall will be back even though he just signed an extension this year.  This is another guy with a million miles on him – and you could see that he was a step behind this year.  His contract next year shows a $7.5mm base, with a $200k workout bonus.  BUT the dead money associated with cutting Marshall is HUGE, at $13.125mm.  So because of that, he may be traded, but if Marshall puts his foot down, he will be on the roster.

Cutler will be in year two of his deal, and he can’t be cut, as he would have almost $20mm in dead money associated with that, but he could be dealt.  And I have no clue how the negotiations go in these situations where there is an existing contract.

Of course, this is all assuming that upper management wants to blow the whole thing up.  If they do, they will need a year, and possibly two to unwind all of the cap room that we would need to field a good team once again.  And realistically, the Bears could decide that internally and just not tell anyone.  Trestman, if nothing else, will work his ass off to do what he can with what he has.  You can say a lot of bad things about Trestman, but you cannot challenge his work ethic, or professionalism.

I imagine the Bears have already run some sort of regression to project what sort of costs are associated with blowing up everything now, or running everything into the ground one more year and then blowing it up.  At least that is what I would do, if my team were in this situation.  Just using a wild assed guess, I would bet that the numbers would show that running it down for one more year and getting out from under some of the current player and coaching contracts would be the way to go.  I think this is what they did with Lovie.  The only problem with this strategy is that if you end up making the playoffs, it makes it pretty damned hard to “Fire Everybody” as we like to call this humble space.  And you never know in the NFL.

Looking at the coaches, we obviously need to jettison Tucker and de Camillis, along with a bunch of the other D coaches and it will be interesting to see what happens to Kromer.  That is Trestman’s guy from way back in the day, but Emery might make a call on that.  Trestman runs the offense anyways, so exactly what Kromer’s job is could be a topic for debate.  I highly doubt that ownership would eat two years of Trestman’s deal, but stranger things have happened.  Past experience, however, shows that the Bears don’t exactly like to do that sort of thing (see Lovie).

I would prefer not blowing up the whole thing and just being good with what we have, but that doesn’t look to be in the cards, sadly.  As I have been saying, this will be one of the most interesting off seasons in recent memory.  There are a lot of things in play with personnel and coaches.  I remain positive, since the NFL changes extremely quickly.   But I am also a realist and understand that so many things that look simple – aren’t.  As I tend to say, individual events don’t necessarily happen in a vacuum – but keep a side eye on that transactions page I mentioned in the beginning of this (now way too long) post.  It may share with you a lot of the untold story of what Bears coaching and management is thinking if you read between the lines.

*** Most of the above discussion has been about our offense because I honestly think we have a core group of guys on defense that could be a force someday, with the right coaching.  Our last few drafts have been outstanding and with a little better positioning, or maybe a better scheme, we will be just fine.  Obviously, a new defensive coordinator next year will be a huge help getting these guys in the right place at the right time.

Bears Bucs Open Thread

The return of McClown and Lovie.  I say the Bears move to 5-6 today.