Reporting Nancy Harty
CHICAGO (CBS) – Even before the Bears were eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday, some Bears fans were calling for the ouster of head coach Lovie Smith.
A number of fans gathered at the Gold Coast restaurant of another Bear’s coach said they were ready for change after the Bears were left out of the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons.
Comparing Smith’s mild-mannered nature to fiery Mike Ditka, some fans at Ditka’s Restaurant on Sunday said it’s hard to lead a team without passion.
Frustrated with another win that almost didn’t happen – and that wasn’t enough to secure a spot in the postseason – many fans were taking it out on Smith.
“He needs to go. He’s had his opportunity, and it’s time for them to mix it up a little bit and get somebody in there that can really work an offense better than he has,” one fan said.
Despite a winning record, three division championships, and a Super Bowl bid in his nine years as head coach, some fans believe there’s too much talent on the roster for the Bears to simply be on the cusp at the end of the regular season.
“The team’s too good to be in that situation, player-wise,” another fan said.
But not everyone was ready to dump Smith, and said it’s unfair to blame him for the team’s slump in the second half of the season.
“I attribute the losses more to injury than anything else. If the team’s healthy, we’re doing well,” one fan said.
Fans also pointed to quarterback Jay Cutler’s inconsistent play, and the team’s weak offensive line.