Biggs: Lovie does 180, promotes Marinelli

Apparently, Lovie Smith’s search outside the Bears’ organization for a defensive coordinator with a background in the Tampa Two and some fresh ideas was limited to one candidate—Perry Fewell.

When he turned the Bears on Jan. 14, it led Smith to backtrack and eventually name defensive line coach Rod Marinelli as the team’s third defensive coordinator in three seasons.

Did Smith really backtrack?

Asked if Marinelli was a candidate for the job on Jan. 5, the day he fired most of the offensive staff and announced he would be relinquishing his role as play caller on defense, Smith said: “We’re going to bring someone in from the outside and we’re going to go from there.”

Asked Monday after he hired Mike Martz as offensive coordinator if he was still looking outside the organization, Smith said: “Keeping all options open right now.”

From the looks of it, all options for the Bears were two men. When Plan A turned down Smith’s offer to rejoin the franchise, he turned to Plan B. And the Bears waited until late this afternoon to announce the news.

“We considered outside possibilities, but I didn’t feel our defense would benefit the same way it will with Rod in the coordinator role,” Smith said in a statement released by the team. “From the first day I became head coach of the Chicago Bears I envisioned Rod as our defensive coordinator. I considered him for the role last year, but wanted him to have the opportunity to work exclusively with our defensive line and become acclimated to our team. He will remain in our defensive line room, but will add the responsibility of the defensive calls on game day.
“As I mentioned at the end of the season, I think we have an excellent defensive staff. Our position coaches bring a valuable expertise to their respective areas and our defense evolves every year based on the input they bring to our planning meetings. We are excited to get to work and we expect to play the type of disruptive defense we have been known for.”

So, essentially Marinelli is being asked to double dip as the line coach and coordinator. That was one of the problems with moving Marinelli to coordinator in the first place. He was hired to revamp the defensive line and the Bears simply were not good enough on the line last season. There is major work ahead too with turnover coming at defensive end. Eric Washington, the assistant defensive line coach for the last two seasons, has been promoted to line coach.

As expected, Shane Day was hired as quarterbacks coach. Smith also promoted a front office assistant Andrew Hayes-Stoker to offensive quality control coach. Smith named his oldest son Mikal Smith the new defensive quality control assistant.

The Bears’ defense has gotten progressively worse since the appearance in Super Bowl XLI three years ago. Maybe with Marinelli things will turn around. But consider that he’s never been a coordinator before, and his agent Frank Bauer told me last week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., that he didn’t think Marinelli would want the job. On some level, clearly he had to be talked into it.

Smith said his goal was to get his staff finalized before the Super Bowl. He accomplished that. Now, it’s time to set out to improve the team.

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