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Illinoisans sharply divided with the rest of the country over Lovie Smith’s firing

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(ESPN)

ESPN's SportsNation polled its readers about the Chicago Bears firing Lovie Smith. Most of the country didn't think he should have been fired. Illinoisans did. As a born and raised Bears fan and someone who covers them exclusively for another site, I understand where Bears fans were coming from. Yes, Smith had a winning record, but having a good team that didn't consistently make the playoffs isn't enough.

There are plenty of reasons why Bears' fans are OK with Smith's ouster.

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(Getty)

-- They weren't beating the Packers. Chicago has gone 1-9 in the last 10 games with their archrival, the Green Bay Packers, but it's not just about the rivalry. The Packers are consistently the best team in the NFC North, and one of the top five teams in the league. They are the team who bounced the Bears from the playoffs in the one time the Bears made the playoffs since going to the Super Bowl. Beating Green Bay isn't about vanity or fans having bragging rights when hanging out in Door County this summer. It has to be done if the Bears want to be elite.

-- He neglected the offense for far too long. This year's Bears team was a classic Lovie team. They had a great defense who could score points and an offense who sometimes pitched in, too. With Brandon Marshall, Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, they should have been able to do more. It's easy to say the offense wasn't effective because of the line, but the Packers were capable of winning the NFC North with a porous line. Why couldn't Chicago?

-- The Bears were good underneath him. The expectation is for great. Bears chairman George McCaskey has made it clear that the Bears want to win above all. His mother, Virginia McCaskey and the daughter of Bears' founder George Halas, is 89. They want her to get another Super Bowl ring. Standing pat with a coach who has brought the team to the playoffs just once in the past six years isn't going to do it.

Thanks, ChicagoSide.

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