Monday, June 17, 2024

Former Bears Scout Blames Lovie Smith For The Cedric Benson Pick


When talking about the most consequential draft picks in recent Chicago Bears history, many circle 2005 as a pivotal moment. The team held the 4th overall pick, giving them a prime opportunity to land a difference-maker. Options were plentiful too. A young quarterback named Aaron Rodgers was still available, and Rex Grossman had missed most of 2004 with an injury. Pass rushers DeMarcus Ware and Shawn Merriman were also there. The same as future 7-time Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins. All would’ve been immediate upgrades to the roster. Instead, the Bears took Texas running back Cedric Benson. Nobody could understand why—nobody except Lovie Smith.

After many years of seeking answers, former scout Greg Gabriel finally offered details on what happened on that fateful day 17 years ago. He explained on the Barroom Network that the team wasn’t even considering a quarterback at the time. They were focused on taking a running back. It seems Smith wasn’t sold on current starter Thomas Jones despite the veteran having just rushed for 1,335 yards the prior year. Smith was also a Texas native, so he had a fondness for Benson.

Most of the Bears brass didn’t know it then, but that pick was doomed to fail from the start.

Lovie Smith tried to fix what wasn’t broken.

Not only was Jones 28 years old and still in his prime, but he was also a big favorite of the Bears locker room. Everybody loved him. He was widely viewed as a team leader. When Benson was drafted, it became a double whammy situation. The running back didn’t want to come to Chicago, and many players in Chicago didn’t want him there. As a result, he took a lot of beatings in practice. That only soured him further on his time there.

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That decision was a microcosm of Lovie Smith. He developed a terrible reputation of meddling with things that didn’t need it. For example: replacing Jones with Benson, firing Ron Rivera as defensive coordinator after making the Super Bowl a year prior, and firing Mike Martz despite Jay Cutler playing some of his best football in 2011. It could be argued that those decisions cost the Bears a Super Bowl title.


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Jun 27, 2022 8:12 am

Who doesn’t love a chance to hammer Lovie? Look, I’m not a fan, but he was better than many of the Goofs the Bears have hired during the 50 years I’ve watched them.

Jun 25, 2022 11:18 am

Not a fan of Lovie, especially after his performance as coach at Illinois. Like many coaches, he’s OK, not great, if his teams have talent, but he did little to recruit players or fit into the community in Champaign.

Jun 25, 2022 9:10 am

Obviously the biggest mistake is missing out on Rodgers. Put him on the team and we win that SB against Indy and maybe win the one the Packers won

Dan Sciortino
Dan Sciortino
Jun 25, 2022 8:21 am

Thanks for taking my question and making a story out of it. It shows me I can easily do your job. This question should have been a story years ago.

Jun 25, 2022 6:00 am

Firing Ron Rivera was the biggest mistake Lovie Smith made in Chicago and to this day likely still haunts him the same way it has haunted fans!

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