No vote of confidence for Smith

Bears coach Lovie Smith wasn't receiving any sort of endorsement from his general manager. Bears GM Jerry Angelo commented on the topic in several different fashions without giving much closure.

Bears general manager Jerry Angelo addressed the media prior to Sunday's game against the Ravens and did not guarantee that Lovie Smith would be back as head coach next year as was reported earlier in the week at Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

"I don't know where the report came from," Angelo said. "I heard that, (it's) speculation I'm not dealing with. At the end of the year, we sit down and we talk, that's what we do. I understand where you guys are going, (but) I'm not going to talk about anything prematurely. It makes no sense to do that, we've never done it in the past, (and) we're not going to do it irrelevant of how the season went."

Smith has two years remaining on his contract for a total of $11 million, but Angelo said money would not be a concern as he conducts his postseason evaluations and makes decisions.

"We have three football games left," Angelo said. "I know we're not in the playoffs, obviously we didn't meet expectations. We did have some problems, and I want to make sure that I focus on them first and foremost to make sure we understand what went wrong, and then what we need to (do to) fix it. I don't look at money in those times. It's not about money, it's about doing what we feel we need to do to be a better football team."

Asked to clarify Smith's status, Angelo was blunt: "Well, he's here. He's our head football coach. I don't know what else is there to clarify."
But Angelo did not say that Smith would be back for a seventh season.

"All I am saying, is that at the end of the year, we sit down and we evaluate everything," Angelo said. "That's all I'm saying. Where you run with that, how you talk about it, you're going to say what you want, you're going to spin it the way that you want to spin it, I'm just telling you right now that at the end of the year, we will evaluate everything."

Told that it would be difficult to put any spin on a guarantee that Smith would return next season, Angelo said: "You got the point of my answer."

Because there is an unprecedented collection of highly regarded NFL head coaches currently available — Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan, Mike Holmgren, Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy — Angelo was asked if that would play a role in his decision-making process.

"No, it doesn't," he said. "Not at all. We're going to do what we feel we need to do to win and become the kind of team that we know we can be. We'll go through an extensive evaluation process like we have every year. There probably will be more things to talk about this year in the off-season, yes, I'm not minimizing that. And we'll do that, and we'll do that rightly."

  • Maybe, instead of battling the elements to get to Baltimore, the Bears should have stayed home. They apparently left their game somewhere between Chicago and snow-covered Baltimore and wound up getting pounded 31-7.

    The area around M&T Bank Stadium was pummeled by 21 inches of snow in a 24-hour period, but the Bears were beaten worse by the Ravens. The Bears tried to get out of town Friday night, a day early, but were grounded by mechanical problems. Instead they arrived in Baltimore just before midnight Saturday, about six hours later than their normal arrival time for a road game.

    To their credit, the Bears didn't try to blame their performance on the disruption in their normal routine.

    "We're not going to make excuses," Smith said. "We get paid to play. We got to the stadium and had an opportunity to play the game, so none of that matters."

    The game was originally scheduled as a noon start but pushed back to 3:15 to accommodate snow-removal efforts throughout the city and at M&T Bank Stadium.

    "We got here in plenty of time," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "Everybody was rested up. Everybody was ready to go. We're professionals. We know there's going to be some bumps in the road. It's not like we came in two hours before game time. We came in with plenty of time last night. We were ready to roll."

    Or get rolled.

  • Quarterback Jay Cutler was asked about the difficulty of playing on a team where the future of the coaching staff is undecided.

    "That's how it goes," Cutler said. "You're never safe in this league, especially when you're losing ballgames or you're not playing to the level you're expected to. That comes with the territory. Everybody understands that."

    Backup quarterback Caleb Hanie played in just his second game this season when he mopped up for Cutler late in the fourth quarter and completed 2 of 5 passes for eight yards but was intercepted once.

  • Earl Bennett filled in for injured Devin Hester (calf) on punt returns and produced the Bears' only points on a 49-yard TD romp late in the second quarter that had the Bears trailing just 14-7 at halftime.

    "I want to be on the field contributing no matter what I'm doing," said Bennett, who led the Bears with 50 receiving yards on two catches. "When my number was called to return when Devin went down I was excited."

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