Asked if there would be change coming on his coaching staff, Lovie Smith basically said there's some of that every year, starting a countdown to what could be a shakeup at Halas Hall. Whether major moves are in store or not, it's too early to tell.
"We'll evaluate everything, as I said, players, coaches and all,'' he said. ``Every year there is change. I don't know if we'll have change right now. I can't comment on any of that right now. We've just started our evaluation process and we'll kind of go from there.''
The Bears' defense allowed 455 yards in Sunday's 31-24 loss at Houston, the most it surrendered all season, and slumped to 21st in league rankings. That's an improvement over its standing as 28th last year when the club placed blame on a rash of injuries. The offense plummeted in the second half of the season to finish 26th, averaging just 295.9 yards per game, an improvement by one spot over last year.
Smith said the evaluation process has just begun but he waited until two days after the end of the season to ax offensive coordinator Terry Shea after the 2004 debacle. Ron Turner replaced him the next year, and defensive coordinator Bob Babich has been in place for two seasons since replacing Ron Rivera shortly after the club's loss in Super Bowl XLI.
It's expected Smith will take a hard look at the defensive line where Brick Haley came on board also after the Super Bowl loss when Smith fired line coach Don Johnson, who got so much production out of Mark Anderson as a rookie. The Bears had to blitz more than any team in the league and when you're doing that, you're doing so to mask a problem. There wasn't a Band Aid big enough. The Bears had just 28 sacks and only eight teams produced less. Of those eight, just the San Diego Chargers are headed to the playoffs.
So, stay tuned on this one. Smith will get together with general manager Jerry Angelo but he made it clear it's his call when it comes to the coaches.
"The coaching staff is my call, like some other things,'' Smith said. ``But Jerry and I talk about all major decisions, whether it's personnel, coaching, guys on our coaching staff and anything else related to the football team. We're in a partnership. We talk about everything that goes on and we'll do the same thing. That's normally how we evaluate things at the end of the year and we'll do it again.''
The big one sitting out there is Rod Marinelli, who took the fall in Detroit this morning. Marinelli and Smith are close friends and Marinelli was his first choice to be the defensive coordinator when Smith was hired in '04. Smith didn't bite when asked about Marinelli.