Time to second-guess NFL’s ‘Coach of the Year’

It was less than a month ago that Chicago Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith was honored with the title “NFL Coach of the Year.” Following the Jan. 15 home divisional playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers 29-21, I think he should give it back.

Granted, Smith did a commendable job during the regular season. He seemed to make all the right moves.

The first good move was starting rookie quarterback Kyle Orton after losing Rex Grossman to a preseason injury.

Another sage decision was splitting time at running back between Thomas Jones and Adrian Peterson.

He continued his wise ways by relying on the proven defense to win games while the offense was still developing.

All would certainly qualify as astute coaching manuevers. Not to mention, the team was able to win eight straight games after a dismal 1-3 start. The Bears finished the season 11-5, and won the NFC North for the first time in five years. This would also be impressive on any coaching résumé; however, this is where the brilliance ends.

The entire football world, including the 2006 NFL Coach of the Year, knew Carolina’s game plan was to get the ball to All-Pro wide-receiver Steve Smith as early and as often as possible. This was the only way they could win this playoff game against the Bears. Yet, somehow, in all of his coaching wisdom, Lovie Smith was unable to prevent this from happening.

This fan begs the question: Why not put double coverage on the one guy on the opposing team who is capable of beating you, especially after he beats your one-on-one coverage on the opening drive of the game for a touchdown? How about making some in-game adjustments?

It seems as though Smith was less than stellar in his decisions in this playoff game. They say it is easy to second-guess after the fact, and that is exactly what I’m doing; not only about the game, but also about the “Coach of the Year.”

Doug Halberstadt is a local resident and is track announcer at Rockford Speedway. He can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com

From the Jan. 25-31, 2006, issue

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