Lovie Smith hypes Bears' chances

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:11 AM ET

It has been six seasons since Lovie Smith took over as coach in Chicago and almost that long since he took the Bears on a joyride to the Super Bowl.

And, rarely has there been heard a discouraging word. At least, not from Smith whose exhuberant optimism has never found bounds.

He has seen his team go through three playoff bereft seasons, watched his quarterback get chased around Soldier Field like a bungling thief in the night, and seen his defence melt into mediocrity. But, as the Bears begin summer workouts, he remains Mr. Happy, unflappable and unflinching in his belief that success is as certain as the grin plastered on his face.

The Pollyanna act is wearing thin.

“He’s in a bare-knuckled fight to keep his head-coaching job,” writes Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times, “and rather than preaching a gospel of reasonable optimism, he’s sending signals to Bears fans that they’re about to go to heaven and back.”

The observation comes after Smith’s latest state of the franchise address to open training camp. In it he professed to see no weakness in his roster, no dark cloud inside a silver lining and he doesn’t even want to think about that 23-25 record he’s compiled in three winters spent wandering in a post-season wilderness.

“Those years you talked about, I have a hard time at 52 years old remembering what happens in the past,” Smith told reporters. “We know what a Super Bowl team looks like, so this part of the season, all teams can do is talk about the potential they have and see if there are any glaring weaknesses. We just don’t see that.”

Not sure what game film he’s been watching, but obviously none of it included the Bears of last year. The offensive line couldn’t open running lanes for Matt Forte and there are potential issues in the secondary and defensive line. And, for all the hype, Jay Cutler hasn’t been on a winning team since high school. Plus, last year he was hurried on 22% of pass plays — fourth worst in the league — and throwing with a lineman draped around your neck like 300 pounds of bling isn’t conducive to a happy ending.

But Smith can’t be bothered to look there; prefers not to remember a 7-9 record. Of course, as Morrissey notes it was also this time last year that Smith dubbed Devin Hester a No. 1 wide receiver and it was in 2007 that he predicted greatness for Adam Archuleta.

In other words, the talk is often better than the walk. So much so, that the media and the Bears‚ fan base is beginning to suspend its belief. This is the season Cutler has to make that trade from Denver look good. The signing of three former head coaches, Rod Marinelli, Mike Tice and Mike Martz, has to look good. The acquisition of Julius Peppers has to look good. And, for once Smith has to look — and not just sound — good.

Curmudgeonly Yours: And, now this from the Harold Ballard school of sports franchise management: Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about his decision to take down all the reminders of past franchise glory inside Gillette Stadium.

“The walls needed painting,” Belichick said, with his trademark smirk.

Pal Hal couldn’t have said it any better. Or worse. Depending on your taste for nostalgia.

Band-aid brigade: This isn’t to suggest the Ravens are jinxed but anyone related to a Ravens player, living near one or even thinking of crossing the street at the same time as one, might want to consider updating the accident insurance.

This team is more disaster -prone than a one-armed wallpaper hanger. Starting cornerback Dominique Foxworth was practically the only member of the secondary who wasn’t injured going into summer workouts. Now he’s out for the season.

Foxworth tore ligaments in his knee during a “non-contact” practice. Never mind Super Bowl, these guys might not get through October. The status of Lardarius Webb and Fabian Washington, both recovering from knee surgery, is uncertain. Ed Reed also has no return date and they learned Thursday that cornerback Cary Williams would be suspended two games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

House hunting: Aaron Schobel is making calls to find a place to rent in Buffalo. Another indication he’s avoiding training camp but will eventually join the team. So, when’s the LeBronesque ESPN one-hour spe cial announcing his decision? Betcha can’t wait.

Quick hits: Jets signed head coach Rex Ryan through 2014. Ryan is very popular with players, but that should be just about the time his act wears thin and they stop listening ... Mike Iupati (No. 17 overall) has signed a a five-year, $18.25-million US contract with the 49ers and is expected to beat out veteran David Baas at left guard ... Chiefs signed rookie Eric Berry (No. 5 overall), projected as the starter at safety, to a five-year, $60-million contract ... Offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga (No. 23 overall) has a five-year, $14.75-million deal with the Packers who will use him as a swing tackle behind Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher ... Steelers have signed former Dallas offensive tackle Flozell Adams.


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