Lovie Smith is the best new coaching hire in the NFL, according to Rotoworld, which ranked every head coach in the NFL, but looked at new hires separately from established head coaches. Such rankings are inherently subjective and little more than offseason fodder to write about, which makes it perfect for me.
Lovie Smith being ranked above Mike Zimmer, Bill O'Brien, Jay Gruden and Mike Pettine should be entirely unsurprising and uncontroversial. His ranking above Ken Whisenhunt and Jim Caldwell less so, though: both coaches made it to a Super Bowl and had reasonably successful tenures as head coaches before.
What stands about all the new coaching hires is how utterly lackluster they are, though. I just can't get excited about any of them. A Belichick disciple who had two good seasons at Penn State? A terrific defensive coordinator whose every Hard Knocks appearance seemed abrasive? The younger Gruden? Whisenhunt, who once trudged out Max Hall as his next franchise quarterback? A Rex Ryan disciple, without the entertainment factor? Jim Caldwell, someone who seems to have as much charisma as a pencil?
Nah, give me Lovie instead.
It would have been interesting to see where they would have ranked Lovie Smith among all the hires. He has his pros and cons: he was a steady performer with the Bears, has a solid regular season and playoff record, and he put together a terrific defense year after year. The downside: consistently, amazingly horrible offense, accompanied by a series of really bad choices at offensive coordinator.
Huh. I just realized that sounds an awful lot like Tony Dungy when he joined the Indianapolis Colts, and subsequently beat Lovie Smith in the Super Bowl five years later. One minor difference between Dungy and Smith: the former had Peyton Manning to lean on. The other gets Mike Glennon.