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Lovie Smith's Firing Brings More Questions Than Answers

By Rob Winn in News on Dec 31, 2012 8:40PM

The firing of head coach Lovie Smith has brought a lot of uncertainty around Halas Hall. First there is the question of what system the new coach will bring in along with whether or not he's an offensive or defensive coach. Then there are the questions about what will happen with the roster, including stars such as Brian Urlacher and Jay Cutler.

As of right nowUrlacher is a free agent and whether or not he is brought back depends on the new hire. Urlacher's skills are quickly diminishing and a new coach without emotional ties to him will have no qualms about moving on. Even though he led the team in tackles for most of the year, most could see that he was not the same player. He was visibly slower than in years past and suffered through numerous nagging injuries, including a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the final four games of the season. If you're inclined to read the tea leaves, Urlacher has most likely put on a Chicago Bears jersey for the final time. A new coach won't be thrilled to have his predecessor's most vocal supporter on his roster, especially when that person isn't playing at his highest level.

Cutler, meanwhile, is coming off another middling season where he threw for barely over 3,000 yards and had a completion percentage of 58 percent. He has one year left on his deal and will be looking for an extension. However, many NFL types view Cutler as a coach killer and aren't overly thrilled with his inability to consistently win. Yes, he has dealt with a terrible offensive line for years and gone through three different offensive coordinators. (Hence the coach-killer label.) But in the offseason the Bears brought in wide receiver Brandon Marshall and coordinator Jeremy Bates, hoping to jump start the offense. In reality, they finished with the 28th ranked offense in the league. Not exactly the hallmark of a quarterback who you sign to a long-term contract. Like so many of the pass rushers he sidestepped, Cutler has avoided much of the blame. But a new coach will surely take a long look at the player under center and wonder if that's the guy he's going to win a championship with.

In the NFL, new coaches rebuild the roster to suit their needs. So don't be surprised when many players are shown the door. Those include people like Devin Hester and others closely associated with the Lovie Smith-era. The offensive line will probably see at least three new starters and the defense will undoubtedly get younger.

How big will the overhaul be? The only person who knows that for sure is general manager Phil Emery and as of today he's not talking.