Two very different coaches will roam the sidelines at Soldier Field Sunday. Rex Ryan, the bombastic, outspoken leader of the Jets, and Lovie Smith, the stoic, softspoken Bears coach. Though their styles vary wildly, both coaches are effective.
The two have plenty in common. Both never played professional football, and jumped straight from college into the coaching ranks. Both were mentored by coaching legends. For Smith, it was Tony Dungy, while Ryan had the ear of his father -- and the defensive coordinator for the Super Bowl-winning Bears -- Buddy Ryan. They both came up coaching defense, and their teams feature hard-driving D.
But that's where the similarities end. Ryan clearly enjoys the spotlight. On HBO's reality series "Hard Knocks," he became a star. His foul language, emotional outbursts and motivational speeches were the highlights of an already impressive season. He's never been afraid to talk trash before a game. Recently, his life became a bit too public, as potentially embarrassing videos of his wife were unearthed by Deadspin.
Public is not a word that could ever be used to describe Lovie Smith. On the sideline, his face rarely says what he is thinking. He doesn't yell often. During halftime of the second Bears-Lions game, when the team was playing terribly, Smith shocked his team by yelling. Chris Harris said that Smith raised his voice from a five to a nine.
Chicagoans have been confused by Smith's quiet nature. We're still fond of a certain coach who was known to froth at the mouth on the sidelines, yell at reporters and officials.
But both styles can be effective. Ryan brought his team to the playoffs in his first season, and if they beat Chicago on Sunday, they'll be in again. For all the hand-wringing about Smith, the fact is that he has a career record of .564 and has brought the Bears to the playoffs three times in his seven-year stint with the team. They key is for the coach to know which style works to motivate and coach the team.
We'll find out who is better at that on Sunday.