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Lovie Coach of the Year

Discussion in 'NFL Discussions' started by Miskito, Jan 7, 2006.

  1. Miskito

    Miskito Cheesehead

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    Jun 5, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Just keeps getting better. From chicagabears.com:

    Smith wins NFL Coach of the Year Award
    By Larry Mayer
    January 7, 2006

    LAKE FOREST, Ill. - After leading the Bears to an 11-5 record, their first NFC North title and a first-round bye in the playoffs, Lovie Smith on Saturday was named Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year.
    Smith orchestrated a surprise worst-to-first turnaround after a disappointing 5-11 season in his first year as coach. He guided the Bears to eight straight wins following a 1-3 start, all after losing starting quarterback Rex Grossman to a broken ankle in the second preseason game.

    Lovie Smith led the Bears to an 11-5 record, a division title and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
    "I'm really excited for our football squad, especially our assistant coaches," Smith said humbly, sharing the credit for his success. "I feel like it's more of an assistant coaches of the year award. They worked awful hard to get us in this position."

    Under the direction of Smith and coordinator Ron Rivera, the Bears defense ranked first in the NFL in points allowed and second in total yards. Chicago permitted just 61 points in eight home games, the fewest in league history since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978.

    The Bears defense is anchored by middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, a five-time Pro Bowler who on Friday was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

    "He's the coach of the year," Urlacher said of Smith. "I realize that a lot of other teams have had great seasons. You look at Tony Dungy and they went 14-2. Marvin Lewis did a great job at Cincinnati. But you look at what (Smith) had to deal with.

    "Our starting quarterback went down and he had to bring along a rookie quarterback (in Kyle Orton) who won 10 games for us. It seems like he always made the right moves. We started off bad, 1-3, but he never gave up on us, never changed the way he spoke to the media or the team.

    "I have so much respect for the guy just because of the way he is with us, the way he treats everyone. In my mind, he's the coach of the year. He's done a great job with this team."

    Asked to identify his greatest attribute as a coach, Smith said: "That would be hard to say. I try to be consistent. I know how I would like for our football team to look. I know how I would like our personality to be on both sides of the ball and special teams, and we won't compromise that.
    "We're going to do things a certain way and go from there."

    Smith received 24½ of 50 votes from a nationwide panel of sportswriters and broadcasters who cover the NFL. He narrowly defeated his mentor, Tony Dungy, who received 20½ votes after leading the Indianapolis Colts to a 14-2 record.

    The Patriots' Bill Belichick received two votes with the Seahawks' Mike Holmgren, the Bengals' Lewis and the Giants' Tom Coughlin each garnering one apiece.

    Smith worked as linebackers coach on Dungy's staff with the Buccaneers from 1996-2000 before leaving to become Rams defensive coordinator. During Smith's tenure in Tampa, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo was the Buccaneers' director of player personnel.

    "As I said when we went out and started our search for our head coach, it starts with leadership," Angelo said. "(With) Lovie, there's never any doubts about that. I knew that firsthand when I had the benefit of working with him down in Tampa and only saw all the come to fruition even more so now that he's in charge."

    That leadership was evident during a staff meeting that Smith called a day after the Bears had slipped to 1-3 after a loss in Cleveland. The head coach confidently encouraged his assistants to stay the course while guaranteeing that brighter days were ahead.

    "That's a tribute to Lovie," said offensive coordinator Ron Turner, "and Lovie being positive, being confident and basically telling us, 'What we're doing is good. Let's just stick with it. Let's just keep doing what we're doing and we're going to weather this storm.'

    "That was a huge message that Lovie sent to all of us. You're sitting at 1-3 after that Cleveland loss. We could have been down and stayed down and the team would have reacted that way.

    "But Lovie didn't let that happen. He believed that we were going to get it turned around. He believed that we were a good team and it was just a matter of getting everything going.

    "He sent that message to us loud and clear and I think because of that we sent it to the players loud and clear and we just kept battling through and we won eight in a row."

    Smith agreed that the loss in Cleveland presented a crossroads for the Bears.

    Lovie Smith will lead the Bears into the playoffs next weekend at Soldier Field.
    "I think it was a defining moment for the season," he said. "When we were 1-3, that's definitely not the way I had it pictured, finishing up the first quarter of the our season. But I knew we had a good football team. Our team knew that we had a good football team.

    "A lot of times you can go one way or the other. You can complain and wonder why or you can go and do something about it and we did something about it."

    Molding a team that Sports Illustrated ranked as the worst in the NFL before the season into a legitimate Super Bowl contender no doubt has earned Smith respect throughout the league.

    "You most certainly do have to say he is coach of the year," Rivera said. "We were supposed to be 3-13 according to a lot of people. We were supposed to the 32nd-ranked team, and he got us to believe in ourselves and believe in each other.

    "It's tremendous. To accomplish what we did this year and not have a lot of people behind us is a great testament to his belief in the players, the team and the systems we have."

    Smith is the fourth Bears coach to win the award, following George Halas (1963 and '65), Mike Ditka (1985 and '88) and Dick Jauron (2001). The six awards are the most for any franchise.

    Hall of Famers Halas and Ditka both won the NFL championship the first time they were named Coach of the Year, a goal that Smith will continue chasing next weekend when the Bears host a second-round playoff game at Soldier Field.

    "Knowing what I do about both of them and all the great coaches who have come through here, each day I'm living a dream to even be talked about with those guys," Smith said. "I'm definitely blessed to be a Bear. It seems like each day I realize that more and more."
  2. Zero2Cool

    Zero2Cool I own a website

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    Dec 11, 2004
    Green Bay, WI
    Packer Fan Since:
    I demand a recount!! Mike Martz had this won!!
  3. rmayer32

    rmayer32 Cheesehead

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    Jul 23, 2005
    Sycamore, IL
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