Tuesday, January 09, 2007

NFC Playoff coach’s corner: Lovie Smith

Instead of flooding the market with “previews,” or rambling on incessantly about “facts,” I’ve decided instead to delve into the NFL Playoffs by interviewing a few of the big-name coaches who will be prominently involved. Coaches, after all, are very important, because they make a lot of money, and are crucial to the success of their respective football team. Without coaches, armies of helmeted men would all be aimlessly wandering the streets, wondering what time it was, and how they got there. In that respect, we’re going to sit down with a very important coach to discuss the upcoming weekend of the NFL Playoffs. This week’s participant: Chicago Bears’ head coach Lovie Smith.

Me: Welcome, Lovie Smith!

Lovie: Thanks for having me.

Me: Lovie…huh. Strange name for a man who hovers over a franchise that’s reputed for its toughness, and general hunting skills. I always fashioned coaches of the Chicago Bears to have more manly names, like Mike Dik-ta, and Dick Jauron. Are you a child bred out of Woodstock?

Lovie: I am named after my grandfather. And it’s “Ditka.”

Me: So your grandfather’s name was Dik-ta Lovie? That is fascinating. He must have been quite the ladies man.

Lovie: That was not his name. You are not understanding what I’m saying, and you are consistently mispronouncing Coach Ditka’s name. Do you understand English?

Me: Me fail English? That’s unpossible!

Lovie:…

Me: Sorry, that was a quote from “The Simpsons.” Do you watch “The Simpsons,” Lovie? It used to be an awesome show, but now it kind of blows. You can catch it on Sunday nights though.

Lovie: I am usually busy on Sundays.

Me: It’s also on in syndication during the week. That’s usually when you can see one of the episodes from Seasons Five through Nine, before the show fell off a creative cliff.

Lovie: I will make a note of that.

Me: Lovie, let’s talk some football. For the second straight season, you enter the playoffs with a brilliant, dominating football team. And Rex Grossman. Are you simply trying to discover if there is such a thing as a negative quarterback rating? Because the playoffs would seem like an inopportune time for such experiments.

Lovie: Rex is a fine quarterback. I am confident he will lead us to victory.

Me: Really? You sound like the captain of the Titanic telling everybody that things are going along smoothly.

Lovie: I do not appreciate that analogy.

Me: I’m sorry, that was rude and insensitive. Let’s move on. Lovie, the job you have done coaching this team has truly fascinated me. You have had a controversy at virtually every offensive skill position for the past two years, yet you keep winning games. I mean, Grossman’s ass is red from perpetually being on the hot seat, Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson continue to battle for carries – with neither of them exactly excelling at their craft - and all of your receivers become irrelevant when Rex is chucking the ball to the other team. How have you managed to corral the egos of guys who shouldn’t have any egos to begin with?

Lovie: We’ve adopted a “team first” philosophy. Egos are checked at the door around here.

Me: Who is responsible for checking these egos? Do the players receive a ticket, whereupon they can retrieve their egos when they leave, so they can feel confident when they go to the nightclub later on?

Lovie: It was just a figure of speech.

Me: I see. Speaking of nightclubs, Tank Johnson. Yikes. I mean…whoa. It was almost as if Tank Johnson was trying to outdo the entire Cincinnati Bengals team in a three-day span. Were you impressed with his success in that endeavor?

Lovie: I’m not sure if “success” is the word I would use there.

Me: Interesting. Lovie, they say that, “the best offense is a good defense.” However, your Bears’ team has seemed to grasp this term very literally in that, your defense actually seems to score more than your offense. Have you considered not playing offense altogether?

Lovie: You have to play offense.

Me: Is that in the rulebook?

Lovie: I imagine that it is.

Me: Maybe you should double-check. Because personally, I think it would be totally awesome to like, return an interception for a touchdown, and then be like, “Hey, other team…why don’t you guys take the ball again? No, seriously! It’s cool with us. We don’t mind. Here, take it.”

Lovie: Again, I am pretty sure that is illegal, though I appreciate the backhanded compliment.

Me: Hey, while we’re thanking each other, let me to thank you for allowing the running back situation to turn into an all-out tandem. Seriously, that really helped my fantasy team. And by “helped,” I mean killed. I mean, I can’t tell you how much I appreciated having Thomas Jones run an entire drive, and then get replaced at the two-yard line so Cedric Benson could score the touchdown. Really, that was awesome! Loved that. Or, the times when Jones had like, 76 yards rushing, and then just wouldn’t go into the game for like, the rest of the game. Those we also great times for me.

Lovie: I apologize for that. I should have made it a point to model my offense around your fantasy football team this year.

Me: Don’t get smart with me, Lovie! Between Rex Grossman and that running back crap, you ruined quite a few fantasy football seasons, buddy! What’s the deal with all of you coaches, anyway? Why can’t you just stick with one running back for crying out loud?

Lovie: It’s good to switch up the style. Thomas and Cedric are two different kinds of runner.

Me: Style? What style? You hand them the ball, you say, “Follow your blocks, and run for the freakin’ endzone!” That’s it. Style…gimmie a break. This isn’t “Impressionist Hour at the Guggenheim” we’re talking about here. It’s football.

Lovie: You seem to know a lot about the NFL. What team did you play for?

Me: I played quarterback for the Carolina Panthers last year. I was the white guy with the stupid haircut. We beat you in the playoffs on your home field, remember?

Lovie: Touché.

Me: There seems to be a lot of tension between us, Lovie. Let’s lighten the mood a little bit, shall we? Okay…Boxers or briefs?

Lovie: Neither.

Me: Yikes. Demi Moore in 1992, or Demi Moore in 2006?

Lovie: 1992. Definitely. I prefer my women less genetically enhanced.

Me: Couldn’t agree more. See, we’re getting along! Okay, Dots or Starburst?

Lovie: Are you serious? Starburst! Those stupid Dots get stuck in your teeth for like, months at a time. I ate a couple of those things this past Halloween, and I just flossed the last of it out last night!

Me: You’re preaching to the choir, Lovie. Alright, Thomas Jones or Cedric Benson?

Lovie: Both.

Me: Darn it, Lovie! Why can’t you give me a straight answer! Okay, okay…let me just calm down…take a deep breath…okay, I’m back. Ya’ know what Lovie, now that I think about, it may be that kind of fortitude that has kept the Chicago Bears so dominant all season long, regardless of any outside criticism. You are truly a man of substance, Lovie Smith.

Lovie: Thank you.

Me: De nada. Before we go Lovie, you guys face the Seattle Seahawks this weekend, at home, in the playoffs. How confident are you right now as compared to how confident you’ll be when you see that Rex Grossman special playoff shade of white, where he starts to appear as if he hasn’t seen the sun in 12 years, or for that matter, a defensive scheme more complex than that of Tecmo Bowl ’92? Will you then at least consider my idea of not playing offense? Because I’ll be honest – as fun as it is to watch you guys go three-and-out on 18 consecutive possessions, I’d prefer to watch Ricky Manning, Jr. running around trying to take somebody’s head off in a desperate attempt to put some points on the board. But hey - that’s just me.

Lovie: For the last time, we have to play offense. He does get pretty white, though…you’re right. I guess a last-second change at quarterback is not, oh how should I put this…unpossible.

Me: Nice.

Lovie: Thank you.


Noooo! I'm not wearing any underwear!

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