Bears deny report Smith is returning
BALTIMORE -- Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo on Sunday said the fate of coach Lovie Smith has not yet been decided.
Before the game against the Ravens, Angelo shot down a report from Comcast SportsNet/Chicago on Friday that cited unnamed sources saying Smith would return for the next to last year of his contract in 2010.
A review of Smith will be conducted after the Bears finish the season against Minnesota and Detroit.
It's not about money, it's about doing what we feel we need to do to be a better football team.” -- Bears GM Jerry Angelo on making a decision about Lovie Smith's future
"At the end of the year, we sit down, we talk," Angelo said.
After the Bears' 31-7 loss to Baltimore, Smith said he didn't expect any resolution to his contractual situation during the remainder of the regular season. The Bears close out the season with a home game against Minnesota and a road game at Detroit.
"What's a vote of confidence at this time? ... You don't talk about things like that during the year," Smith said. "[We're] disappointed in our play, disappointed in our record. I'm the head football coach, so I'm sure a lot of people aren't knocking down the door wanting to pat me on the back."
The Bears owe Smith $11 million for the next two seasons. Angelo said the remainder of Smith's contract will have no impact on decisions the team makes.
"It's not about money, it's about doing what we feel we need to do to be a better football team," Angelo said.
Angelo also said the injury suffered by Pro Bowl middle linebacker Brian Urlacher in the season's first game would not be a factor in any decisions that will be made about Smith.
"I'm not going to blame injuries on our season," Angelo said. "For the most part we stayed pretty healthy. Losing Urlacher right at the beginning [was big], but we were able to overcome that.
"Like I said, injuries are a part of the game. If you have a rash of injuries that's one thing. We never really had a rash of injuries."
Among things Angelo said he will talk to Smith about is the decision to act both as defensive coordinator and head coach this season.
"Things didn't come together like we wanted and there are a lot of reasons why," Angelo said. "It's not just any one thing and he may bring that [dual role] up, I don't know.
"All this is premature, but we could get a real laundry list of things that didn't go quite the way we wanted them to go this year."
Quarterback Jay Cutler, who has thrown an NFL-high 25 interceptions, said players are aware of the uncertainty surrounding Smith and his coaching staff.
"That's how it goes. You're never safe in this league, especially when you're losing ballgames, when you're not playing to the level you're expected to. ... That comes with the territory," Cutler said.
Angelo said winning and playing well in the final games will be important in the decision process.
"We need to get a win, that's very important right now," Angelo said. "And I feel like we've been competitive, we just haven't been able to win -- and that's the bottom line in our business as we all know."
If Smith is retained, he'll have full ability to make a change in assistant coaches. The Bears have struggled on offense this season and the job security of offensive coordinator Ron Turner has come under scrutiny in recent weeks.
"I'm evaluating myself too," Angelo said. "But I do know this: We all share into what happened this year. I'm not going to sit here and put blame on any one thing.
"When we sit down and visit and I talk to ownership as well as the coaches, our personnel people, it will be an organizational decision on what we do going forward on everything."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press