Bernstein: Get Ready For The Fisher Campaign

By Dan Bernstein–

The “Fire Lovie” guys may have their candidate.

Even after a surprising division title in a must-win year, and even after GM Jerry Angelo indicated his desire to extend Lovie Smith’s contract, the Bears’ head coach remains largely distrusted by fans who have grown tired of him.

It is clear that there were as many of his detractors lying dormant as there were those of Jay Cutler. That crowd has begun to stir, reawakened and emboldened by the team’s poor performance in the NFC championship.

A Tribune poll yesterday asked if Smith deserves an extension. 69% of respondents answered “no.”

So we’re not talking about just the billboard-raising halfwits, here. The shaky loss to the Packers was all it took for a snap-back to previously-held positions – a return to the comfortable surroundings of the tribal camp.

Lucky year, Cutler’s a quitter, Lovie sucks. The world of the self-hating Bears fans restored, at least as they choose to perceive it.

The only thing needed was an alternative to Smith, and it has arrived in the form of Jeff Fisher. He and the Titans parted ways yesterday, and the longest-tenured head coach in the NFL is now available. A Bear for five years and a member of the 1985 champs (he was on IR), Fisher’s resume includes the requisite bona fides: connection to Chicago, apprenticeship under Buddy Ryan, oft-expressive personality, and coaching ‘stache.

If Fisher is content to spend a season observing, waiting for the next round of firings as he’s surreptitiously courted by owners and GMs, the groundswell here will build.

It may be impetus, even, for Angelo to extend Smith. Angelo’s decision to slide the news of that intention into the Cutler frenzy was made for a reason, but the effect was not the one intended. Though he thought it would siphon away some of the negative attention from his quarterback, it actually provided cover from the Smith-doubters who only now are realizing “Wait…what?”

Unlike most situations we’re used to that devolve into polarized shouting matches and cherry-picked facts, the question of Smith’s future actually includes a refuge for smart people. Smith has another year left on his deal, and he could simply be allowed to complete his contract. He wins, he’s extended, and the yes/no, binary judgment on Smith is delayed a year, essentially.

Whether Fisher would even represent an upgrade is debatable. He has the same Super Bowl loss to his credit, and a 5-6 playoff record in the six postseason appearances in his 16 full years on the job. His career mark with the Oilers/Titans was 142-120. Smith has a better winning percentage, both in regular-season and playoffs.

But that’s beside the point. All Fisher has to be is acceptable enough, and Not Lovie.

Amazingly, we are already close to being back to where we were at this point last year. The last six months have been a whirlwind of football drama: the frightening, winless preseason, the surprising start, the horror of the Giants game, two bad home losses, the post-bye-week reinvention, opponents offering third-string QBs for sacrifice, two good home wins, the dismantling of Seattle, the Packer debacle, and, finally, the attack on Jay Cutler’s character by the NFL Twitter-piranhas, who stripped the flesh off his bones in a blink.

All that. Has anything really changed?

More from Dan Bernstein
  • bronzo

    Amazingky I agree with Dan on this…no rush to extend contract. If Lovie wins next year extend …if not…find somebody new.

    • Bob Loblaw

      Count me in your camp Bronzo.

      Anyone hear when the Gordon Beckam Camp registration opens?

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    Good point, Bernsie- I thought the same thing when I heard Fisher was leaving TN.

    Anyone else just waiting for JimmyMac to misstep on Cutler yesterday? He said that they would have had to “drag him off the field” to get him out of the game- and he may be right…

    …but from ’83-’88 Jim McMahon started just 54 of 96 games, so we really never got the chance to find out- hard to get dragged out of a game if you don’t start it. Charles Martin only gives him a pass for half a season’s worth… and with that offensive line (Covert, Bortz, Hilgenberg, Thayer, Van Horne) and from what I remember he had a fairly decent set of backfield players, you’d think that he’d have been worth more than 60% of his team’s games… He never started more than 13 games in any season, and only did that once.

    • Mark, Sterling

      Chris….You sir are a GENIUS! Good to see a NON-meatball post on here for a change :-D

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Oops… 95 games because of the strike… and 92 non-replacement games ;)

  • The Fire and The Passion

    We need dat guy Fisher he’s got a great Chicago mustache and he’s Chicago tough and he knows Chicago football cause he played for Da Bears and he’s got the fire and da passion and da playerz will relate to him cause he played here in the cold weather!

  • pulseczar

    But dat guy was on the Sooper Bowl team! BEARSSS.

  • Lou Piniella's FUPA

    Mike Ditka, Phil Jackson, and Joel Quenneville all had cookie dusters (by cracky), and they all won championships. But what about Don Baylor and Dave Wannstedt? Weren’t their mustaches (by cracky) good enough?

    I love a good push broom (by cracky), but I really can’t handle any facial-hair (by cracky) discussions. Not this week. Not after the whole Cutler thing.

    But it will happen. I’m going to be at the Jewel on Ashland tonight, and someone in the frozen-food aisle will rave about Jeff Fisher’s furry upper lip (by cracky) and how it somehow translates into success.

    Does anyone know what Bill Parcells plans to do next year? I know he wanted to return to football, but I wasn’t sure on what level. Just curious.

  • A real meatball would say

    Dere is only one coach with a mustache who could coach da bears. Dey should fire Lovie and hire Coach Ditka


    I’m not as sold on Jeff Fisher as others appear to be. While he was the longest tenured NFL head coach dating back to when the Tennessee Titans were known as the Houston Oilers in the early ’90s, I think the last 2 seasons have taken their toll. First, the Titans got off to a miserable start a couple years ago and Vince Young supplanted Kerry Collins as starting QB if memory serves. That team nearly made the playoffs. This past season, the Titans got off to a good start, but there was that loss to the Washington Redskins in which Vince basically flipped off his head coach throwing his jersey into the stands at LP Field in Nashville. The Titans were bad at football the rest of the way and the Young story turned into quite a soap opera. While many around the NFL feel Fisher’s one of the game’s best coaches, I’m not so sure the body of work is good enough. His Titans went to the playoffs only 6 times during 16 years on the job down there. I don’t think that’s good enough compared to what Lovie Smith has done in 7 seasons with the Bears.

    • Harry's Phlegm

      Good stuff ABS18.

      Wins and losses (and playoff appearances) don’t always tell the whole story of a coach in my world. Some coaches make more out of their personnel than what they’re given talent-wise and I see Fisher as that kind of coach.

      Also if you can last 16 years with one team it means you don’t have those personality traits or idiosyncrasies (sp?) that rub players the wrong way and make them tune you out.

      Plus being in the same division with Indy these last 12 years or so doesn’t help.

      I’m not saying the Bears should go after him but…plus he probably wants too much personnel control and that won’t fly with JA.

      Good sports-talk radio fodder nevertheless.

      • Harry's Phlegm

        I meant the Indy/Manning “juggernaut” not just Indy as far as division comment goes.

  • bigtime sucker

    i don’t want parcells because he is about as loyal to a franchise as larry brown. i don’t feel the need to change for fisher because his strong suits are about the same as lovies, defense minded, 4/3 believer, the need for strong special teams and a strong running game. his weaknesses the same, different offensive cordinators, can’t handle a qb, stubborn. the only thing fisher does better than lovie is he is a better quote from time to time. these guys like lovie, they like his system, they know his system, let’s see what happens with continuity at all levels of coaching for a second year, i would like to see it!!!

  • bigtime sucker

    remember this is the same jeff fisher that has bascially messed with vince youngs head after he had success and locked steve mcnair out of the facilities, lost alber haynesworth, mismanaged pacman jones, he is not some angelic figure that is going to rescue the bears from NFL hell

    by the way, derrick rose….. fire your chef, a chef hired for nutritional improvment shouldn’t be loading up food with hot spices

    • Harry's Phlegm

      Except for McNair I would tend to take Fisher’s side when it comes to V. Young, Haynesworth and Pacman.

      Either way, I’m most interested in seeing what the Bears do this offseason with personnel (assuming the lockout doesn’t mess things up).

  • bigtime sucker

    if we ever make a coaching change, i would LOVE to see it be brian billick

  • Beverly Brewmaster

    I think there’s an important difference between folks who think Cutler faked his injury and folks who want Lovie fired. The idiots calling for Cutler’s head are ignoring irrefutable facts. But while many calling for Lovie to be fired are admittedly doing so for stupid reasons (see, e.g., fire and passion), opinions on head coaches are much more subjective because there are so many unknowns. Some point to wins and losses, but that’s the same logic that led people to declare Kyle Orton king in 2005. There are a million variables that contribute to a win or a loss, and the connection between the coach and on-field performance is so tenuous that it’s hard for a fan, let alone a GM, to determine how much of a team’s success or failure is derived from the head coach.

    I wanted Lovie gone after last season, and I spent most of this season questioning my previous opinion; his overall record should at least give critics pause. But just as I had convinced myself that Lovie really is a good coach, most of my concerns about his shortcomings reared their ugly heads in last Sunday’s loss. So while I think many in the anti-Lovie crowd can rightfully be dismissed as meatballs, I think an intelligent case can be made for him being fired even though I realize it’s not gonna happen.

    • AnneS

      I totally agree. But, I have a feeling Lovie’s contract will be extended soon.


      While Lovie Smith gave us Rex “as our quarterback,” He also runs a pretty fierce defensive unit. His players do not quit on him.
      Didn’t Jeff Fisher have a hand in picking VInce Young? He was more than just a head coach.
      And, the AFC is such a pain in the ssa right now. The Titans could fold up, and I don’t think anyone would notice. Take Cleveland with them. Make it a two team division, league, whatever.
      Unless we find that Lovie has been the biggest voice in getting busted draft picks, He has earned the right to coach the next schedule of games.

    • Denver Deadite

      Nice post, Brewmaster.

      I want Lovie gone for several reasons, but because he could be replaced with Fisher isn’t one of them.

  • Luol Dung

    First Bulls starter since MJ and we are talking about a team that won’t play again until August. People in this city are focused on the wrong things.

    • AnneS

      I have to agree it is a Bears town. And they just ended their season…there is a lot happening. There is always more discussion on teams that have issues than those doing well. So it is a good thing that the focus on the Bears right now.
      I did hear Spiegs and Goff were talking about him..a lot.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Again… it’s a Bears town first and foremost. Right or wrong, that’s just the way it is. Also, it’s not as if the Bears hadn’t played in a month- their season just ended less than a week ago. Isn’t there an acceptable denouement period?

      Oh, and I’m sure you weren’t talking Bulls this past summer in baseball season… nope… none of us were. Y’got me.

      • Lou Piniella's FUPA

        Chris is absolutely right. That’s just the way it is.

        If people are upset and want something else heard on The Score, such as Rose starting on the All-Star team or the Hawks blowing chunks in the third period this year, then call of e-mail the station. Try to alter the discussion. (To your credit, Luol Dung, that’s what you were doing. I am just elaborating on Chris’ point.)

        The Bears’ season just finished, and people want to express their feelings. Which is exactly what Bernstein has been doing. Also, the Cutler story was a big issue and it needed the coverage (though the amount could be debated). Same with Fisher (because Lovie is back on the hot seat).

        On the Fisher topic, the difference in hiring him and firing Lovie would be minimal. Also, I think Lovie earned another year — not an extension.


    It’s unfortunate that Derrick Rose’s first start in the NBA All-Star Game next month and Bulls’ talk isn’t quite on the SCORE’s radar as much as I’ve heard Jay Cutler this & that since the Bears’ 21-14 loss to the Packers in the NFC Championship Game Sunday. Hopefully, Rose and the Bulls take over sports talk until the White Sox & Cubs report to Spring Training in about 3 weeks or so from now. I think because of all the Bears/Cutler talk the last several weeks, Bulls, Blackhawks & other sports have been either pushed off to the side or talked about in “The Second Half” for only a few minutes after the 3:30p “Scoreboard Update”.

    • bigtime sucker

      that could have something to do with the ever waning belief that all star games matter. i mean ratings across all sports all star games are horrible, it presents your star’s chance for injury in a meaningless game and switching gears isn’t that easy, if this were closer to either trading deadline or playoffs, than bulls talk would dominate but rose made the all star team, he should have, rose is starting, well he should start, where’s the news in that? when someone does what they should, then great, but ok. the fact that someone actually lived up to expectations i guess in this town should be news but it’s really kind of acknowledge it and find somethign that fuels your jets, and right now, it’s where do the bears go from here?

  • Dan Rakow

    I would like to see the Bears have another winning season under Lovie Smith next NFL Season especially that the NFC North could be very competitive with the Packers as good as they are,Lions could be a Surprise Team and Viking can’t rule the Purple out.

  • Jon, Montgomery

    I’m heading to the U.C. tonight, hopefullly rose plays so the bulls don’t lose in a blowout ;)

    no, but it should be a great game. good luck to the bulls but hopefully the magic come out on top in this one.

    I will say this, rose IS the MVP of the NBA this season and he is rightfully starting in this year’s all-star game, rose had become a better player than anybody thought he would be, and he still can get better.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Enjoy the game Jon…don’t get into any fights!

      • Jon, Montgomery

        thx! :)

        i hope i make it out alive

    • Jon, Montgomery


      stupid keyboard.

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    Completely unrelated note, but there seem to be some pretty smart peoples on here…

    Any runner on here use Vibram 5 fingers? I’m wondering if I should even seek them out just to try on… I’m starting up mileage for my next half in 2 weeks, and that’ll give my feet time to adjust.

  • nowathand

    When there are several Super Bowl-winning head coaches out there – Gruden (who got there more recently than Fisher) in spite of him angering players, Billick (ditto), and Cowher (ditto) who is not the same without Lebeau – Bears fans can’t seriously think the Bears should fire Lovie for a guy who hasn’t won a playoff game in any of the seven years Lovie’s been head coach in the league?

    The Bears have two guys ON THEIR STAFF who have won playoff games more recently than Jeff Fisher – Mike Tice and Mike Martz.

    I could give you a long list of dudes who won playoff games more recently than Jeff Fisher and are also available – Herm Edwards, Brad Childress, Jim Mora (fired twice), and Wade Phillips. Mike Sherman won a playoff game as recently as Jeff Fisher has. Heck, Jim Fassel, Bill Callahan and Martz have been to Super Bowls more recently than Fisher.


    I am ALL in!!!! DO NOT EXTEND LOVIE!!! Too many quality coaches out there!!!!

  • Harry's Phlegm

    I can’t believe ESPN had yet two…more…articles today on Cutler (Wilbon and Woj-a-whatever). They keep saying the story won’t go away. No kidding. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because the media perpetuates the story and fans the flames long after the fire is smoldering.

    Too many writers trying to write too many stories. Sometimes they should just put the proverbial pen down (or close the laptop or whatever).

    The media gets me very angry at times. They’re like parasites.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      100% on target HP.
      But Bernsie also kept kvetching about the Cutler story…all he needed to do was shut-up about it and have Matty/Jason turn away Cutler calls.

      Wilbon really surprises/disappoints me.

      • Harry's Phlegm

        Agreed LHA…I hope Wilbon doesn’t turn into one of “those” guys. And remember when Rick Reilly use to be both relevant and funny? Now he’s neither. In fact he’s brutal. Bill Simmons made him not matter anymore.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Amazing how Riley stopped being funny when he left SI to go to Booyah.

      • SPAULDING!

        Did you see the TMC pictures? He’s walking around on those two legs, like a g’d’ stuntman at a rodeo (e-wha?)
        I agree, I barely want to refer to it anymore in idiotic non-sequiters like I just did.

        Football isn’t also about high draft picks. Otherwise, we’d be seeing the Detroit Lions versus the Chiefs next weekend. Lovie Smith seems less frightening than Norv Turner. And, it is important to have the faith of your GM and/ or owners. It has to have an affect on team respect and performance. Too much thinking on a Friday.

  • AnneS

    I have to say, I love the roller coaster analogy. It’s perfect..whip lash and all.

  • t
  • puddin' head

    They’re like parasites. great comment, but they are parasites. we joining up here talking about them are some other type of “thing” ?? as Harry used to say parasites spelled backwards is setisarap that is probably what we are.

  • meesohawnee

    not a real flattering pose for realityhosebag in the suntimes huh? Wonder what got her panties all in a bundle… bad publicity is good publicity !!


    nonseqitour non-sequitor,

    non-sequitur? That’s how you spell it? sequitur?


  • The King

    The Lovie and Cutler situation are two different things. The majority of fans don’t like Lovie, and haven’t for a long time. Nothing Bernstein says or does will change that. That “fact” won’t stop him from running off at the mouth though. He’s a bigger blow hard than Mike North.

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