If I never witness another Lovie Smith news conference it will be too soon.
His clock management is questionable, use of red flags bizarre, ability to improve players less than dazzling, and he goes through assistant coaches like George Steinbrenner after a weekend sweep by the Red Sox.
But this is indisputable: His players play hard for him, and there may be no greater tribute to an NFL coach in this era.
Consider one Devin Aromashodu, who was last seen on a milk carton before lining up wide right Sunday with 10:56 left in the third.
Jay Cutler dropped back to pass and after finding no one downfield, took off for the left sideline.
From a dead stop and out of the play, Aromashodu sprinted 30 yards across the field as Cutler ran for the first down.
Just before Cutler got out of bounds, Aromashodu arrived in time to bury Seattle defensive end Chris Clemons.
Completely flattened him with a clean hit.
But why? Aromashodu is closer to the outhouse than the doghouse these days, and Clemens had pretty much given up on the play.
So what was in it for him? Why did Aromashodu bother to go full speed the width of the field to make a nondescript block that probably few in the stadium even noticed?
“You always finish the play. That’s what we’re taught,’’ Aromashodu said. “From the first play to the last, you play hard and finish the play.
“Coach Smith preaches that and (receivers coach) Darryl Drake preaches that. You play until the play’s over.
“Who knows, maybe Jay could drop the ball and then I’m there to recover it, or maybe that block gets him more yards. You don’t know.
“You always have to play until the play’s over.’’
So here’s a guy with every reason to be bitter and little reason to give an effort. Buried on the depth chart, he has 10 catches for the year, 3 in the last three months, and 5 in the last 16 games. Cutler so rarely targets him that the shock of it would probably cause a drop if Cutler threw a ball in his direction.
It’s been a rough year for D.A., especially after catching 24 balls a year ago, and yet here’s Aromashodu hustling across the field to make a block.
“You never know when the play you make might be the difference in the game, even if you’re not a big part of the game,’’ Aromashodu said. “This was such an important game and you have to be mentally ready to make a play.’’
There are many reasons to criticize Lovie Smith. Most of them are valid and many drive you to the cliff of insanity, if his undue arrogance doesn’t send you there first.
But you simply can’t argue the passion he gets from his players, and the effort they provide him.
And there’s probably no bigger reason that Smith’s Bears are 1 win from another trip to the Super Bowl.
With 1:51 left in the game Sunday, Olin Kreutz took a 15-yarder for hitting Seattle linebacker Matt McCoy, who had just smacked Earl Bennett in the head after an incomplete pass on fourth down.
Even though the game was out of reach and the Bears had given up the ball, Kreutz was having none of it.
“I didn’t appreciate their guy hitting my guy in the head,’’ Kreutz said. “I don’t give a (bleep) that the game is over. I’m not gonna stand there and watch that happen.’’
You gotta love that.
Much like they did at Green Bay in the final week of the regular season, the Bears showed all sorts of different looks in the second half Sunday.
“Once the game got out of hand score-wise, I felt like they were doing stuff just to do stuff,’’ said Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck. “They were just trying to get all their coverages — all their blitzes — on film for their next opponent.
“I didn’t think it made any sense to do what they were doing. Even the (Matt Forte) Wildcat throw, I don’t know what that was. It seemed like they were just running every pressure that they had when traditionally those guys have been, ‘We just do what we do, we play Cover-2, we sit back and we win the game.’
“But because they handled it that way, I thought they gave us opportunities to get back in it.’’
Maybe, but it was too late for that.
Down 28-0 with two minutes left in the third quarter of a playoff game, and facing a fourth down on the Bears’ 12, Pete Carroll chose to go for a field goal, which narrowed the gap to 28-3.
The goal there isn’t to avoid a shutout, Herm Edwards, it’s to try to win the game.
Bad for the Seahawks, good for the Bears.
Sportspickle.com: “No Favre relatives arrested in math lab bust.’’
Brian Urlacher, on the Bears having the ball for 37:10 against Seattle: “We were on the sideline for most of the game. It’s easy to play defense when you’re not playing.’’
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