Lovie Smith had a healthy respect for the impact of Olin Kreutz on the field and in the lockerroom. But after expressing disappointment that the Kreutz era is over Sunday, the Bears’ coach as expected quickly moved on.
”You know how I feel about Olin. He’s been a great Chicago Bear,” Smith said after practice at training camp in Bourbonnais. ”But every year is different, a different team. You have to move on, which we’re going to do. We have a good football team and other guys will have to move into that role.
While it was clear to everybody concerned that Kreutz was not the Pro Bowl caliber player he was in his prime, he still was a valuable part of the team on and off the field. So while the Bears somewhat surprisingly moved on and signed former Seattle Seahawks center Chris Spencer to a two-year contract Sunday, the question quickly turned to whether or not the Bears are better
”We think we’re a good football team with the team we have right now,” Smith said when asked that question Sunday.
”Chris is a good football player. I can’t compare him to Olin. Olin was not an option, didn’t work out. This is a good option for us. We’re always trying to improve our football team, we need a player and we feel good about him.”
Smith knew there was no avoiding the Kreutz angle Sunday. But he was less willing to lament the departure of the 13-year veteran and six-time Pro Bowl center than the media after practice.
”You can’t live in the past,” he said when asked how disappointed he was that Kreutz and the Bears couldn’t come to terms. ”There are other good football players that we had on our team last year, but this is a new year. We can’t continue to talk about what’s happened in the past. We’re talking about now. We’re excited about getting a chance to see Chris Spencer on the football field, and today we were better than we were yesterday as a football team. And that will continue to happen throughout [training camp].”
Smith said the move was a team decision.
“Every decision is made as far as personnel, it’s not ‘Jerry’ and ‘Lovie.’ We make those decisions,” Smith said. ”We’ve come to this conclusion. You negotiate and sometimes it just doesn’t happen for us. Everyone knows what Olin Kreutz has done for us in the past, and that’s quite a bit. But this is a new year, we’re going in this direction and we have a good football team.”