Jerry Angelo's firing did not come as a surprise to Lovie Smith
The removal of Jerry Angelo as the general manager of the Chicago Bears two days after the season ended with the franchise out of the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five years did not come as a surprise to Lovie Smith.
Speaking for the first time since Angelo was ousted more than seven weeks ago, Smith said it’s the nature of the business in the NFL, meaning it’s difficult to be surprised with any moves that come, particularly at the end of a non-winning season.
“As far as surprised, I mean, we know in our profession what’s at stake always and changes can happen at any time,” Smith said Thursday at the NFL scouting combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. “I’m here primarily because of what Jerry Angelo did for me, giving me an opportunity, leading the charge to give me the opportunity to be the head football coach here. I can’t necessarily say surprised at the end of the year, it’s not a surprise, I don’t think any coach or GM in the league is surprised about anything that happens, but again Jerry did an awful lot for us, but you move on and that’s what we’ve done.
“Jerry will be fine, he’s a lifetime friend but you do move on and as far as my involvement with the search, I was involved, of course I had a chance to meet with all the guys coming through and talk to them. I wanted them to see, as much as anything, have an idea of what I’m about, what I was trying to get accomplished as a head coach.”
Smith knows new general manager Phil Emery. When Smith was hired as head coach in January 2004, Emery was with the club as an area scout for a few months before leaving to become the college scouting director of the Atlanta Falcons.
Team president Ted Phillips mandated that the new general manager would have to work with Smith for the 2012 season. The coach’s contract runs through 2013.
“So it’s not like we’re new to each other,” Smith said. “Transition has gone on smoothly with him, we both share the same philosophy. Phil went through as thorough a search really from Ted Phillips and I can see why he ended up being our guy, even though there were a lot of other good candidates that we looked at, but we’re here right now.”
The move certainly puts Smith in a position where he needs to win. He says that is nothing new.
“Every year I’ve been a head football coach and pretty much as a position coach, I felt like we had to win the next year or else,” he said. “There’s a standard that we’re going to try to get accomplished. That hasn’t changed at all. As far as more pressure, new GM having to keep me, I don’t think any of the guys looked at it that way. Hopefully they looked at it as a great situation they were coming into, a team that two years ago was in the NFC Championship game, a team that was 7-3 this past year before injuries happened. I don’t look at it that way.”
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune