CHICAGO - JANUARY 21: Quarterback Rex Grossman #8 and head coach Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears celebrate after the Bears 39-14 win against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Championship Game January 21, 2007 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
After nine seasons in Chicago, the Bears on Monday dismissed Lovie Smith. He compiled a record of 81-63 and only made the playoffs once since a Super Bowl appearance. His career in Chicago had highlights, but still had some low-lights.
The best of Lovie Smith was pretty great:
-- Bears get to the Super Bowl -- Undoubtedly the highlight of the Lovie Smith era was the Bears' trip to Super Bowl. With Brian Urlacher and the defense at their best, Rex Grossman (really) leading the offense, and rookie Devin Hester returning kicks for touchdowns, the Bears plowed over the NFC. They were stopped in the Super Bowl by Peyton Manning's Colts, but it was fun to see the Bears dominate again.
-- Avenging Seattle loss in playoffs: During the 2010 season, the Bears hit a stretch where they went 1-4, losing badly to the Giants, Seahawks and Redskins. After the bye week, they went on a tear and made it to the playoffs to rematch with the Seahawks. This time, the Bears took a decided victory over Seattle.
But there was plenty of bad, too:
-- After an 11-5 season in 2005, the Bears earned a bye in the playoffs before playing the Carolina Panthers in the divisional round. The defense couldn't stop Jake Delhomme (really) and the offense didn't get going until it was too late. The Bears were knocked by the Panthers.
-- When Smith was hired, he said his first goal was to beat the Packers. Unfortunately, he has failed to meet that goal recently. The last time the Bears beat the Packers was in September of 2010. This isn't just a matter of the Bears wanting to beat their biggest rival. The Packers are the class of the NFC North. Beating them is necessary to get anywhere near the Super Bowl.
-- In both 2011 and 2012, the Bears started off with the kind of winning streaks that had fans making Super Bowl plans. The Bears missed the playoffs both seasons. In 2011, injuries played a major part as Matt Forte and Jay Cutler were both lost. But there was no good reason for it in 2012, which is reportedly what led to Smith's dismissal.
In the end, it's not about an overall win or loss record. It's that Chicago wants football teams that will have a chance to win Super Bowls. It's been too long since the city could celebrate with a parade down State Street in January. Smith was well-liked by his players, but that still didn't earn him any rings.