Chicago Sun-Times

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Rick Scuteri // AP Photo

Mark Potash, Adam Jahns, and Sean Jensen live-tweet the Phil Emery press conference regarding the firing of coach Lovie Smith.

Here is audio of the press conference and below is the live-blog of the presser.

Lovie Smith, who first came into the NFL as a member of Tony Dungy's staff with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1996, reacted to Dungy's retirement from the Indianapolis Colts on Monday.

"I'm happy for Tony and his family, but sad for our league because we are losing one of the all-time great coaches,'' Smith said in a release. "He is one of the modern-day pioneers of our game. His résumé includes achievements no other NFL head coach has accomplished, which I'm sure will lead to a spot in the Hall of Fame. And as great of a coach as he is, he's an even better person.

Lovie Smith could complete the next move on his coaching staff by the end of the weekend but the agent for the men involved said nothing will happen that fast.

Rod Marinelli is in town today and will meet with Smith and team officials at Halas Hall. It's fully expected in league circles that he will join the Bears' staff although in what capacity and with what specific title is unknown.

"He's just visiting,'' Frank Bauer told the Sun-Times. ``Rod has a number of opportunities and he is seeing Lovie and they're sitting down and talking. It's a visit.''

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.

We'll turn the blog over to the men involved today.

A look at the Q&A's with Kyle Orton, Lovie Smith and Ron Turner.



"Obviously I'm excited. I want to try to make the most of it and win football games."


"It was kind of the same thought as we were going in, just consistent play and just doing the right things on offense, not that Rex didn't do that or anything. I think Rex has played well. I just focus on myself and getting ready to play."


"I'm real excited. This is obviously one of my goals going into the season. As a team, we've got a lot of goals to accomplish and this is just the start of it."


"I think it's a relief and now it's just all about the unit and knowing what everybody's going to do and just kind of tailoring things to the way that we like it."


"I think I've just continued to get better in the preseason--in the games and in practice--so this will be another step to take. We'll get a lot more playing time this week and just try to get ready for Indianapolis."

Wow. The mailbox is stuffed and I’ll start work soon to get as many questions answered as I can on Friday. No promises I can get through all of them as there is much draft news to hunt down.

Defensive tackle Tommie Harris was honored at Maryville Academy Tuesday afternoon at a luncheon in which he was given the Ed Block Courage Award. Harris showed up with coach Lovie Smith and a few teammates and owner Virginia McCaskey and team president Ted Phillips were also on hand.

Phillips got hit with some questions about linebacker Brian Urlacher, who is seeking more money. Urlacher had neck surgery this offseason and is coming off his first non-Pro Bowl season that was not shortened by injury. He has been absent from the first two days of the voluntary offseason program, which began Monday.

``You know what, he didn’t come to all the workouts last year either so we understand, he told Lovie,’’ Phillips said. ``Obviously, we’d like 100 percent participation and I think we’ve been spoiled over the years because we’ve gotten very close to that and sometimes it turns out that players don’t want to come for different reasons, we respect that. We’ll still try to get him here as soon as possible. Because he's a leader of our team, he's the face of our organization and we want him here.’’

Bears coach Lovie Smith released a statement on the retirement of Brett Favre this afternoon:

“I think this announcement comes about 17 years too late and I don’t know if I will completely believe it until Green Bay opens the season without No. 4 lining up under center. In all seriousness, no one has given more to our game than Brett Favre. I have spent the better part of my NFL coaching career working on game plans to beat him. There is no player I respect more. He is one of the all-time greats to ever play in the NFL. He was a tremendous leader and the ultimate competitor on Sundays. I wish him and his family the very best.”



After a disappointing season as you look at the body of the work I was excited the way we were able to finish the last couple of games and beat a couple of good football teams. I feel like that started hopefully our climb back on top for the 2008 season. Since then, for the most part, we have been able to keep our coaching staff in place. We’ve lost one coach, we’ll probably end up losing two coaches, but I feel like we have someone in place to fill all of those positions. Then from there it is about our personnel, No. 1 trying to keep as many of our core players as possible, which hopefully we’ll be able to do. We have a couple issues with that, but we feel like we’re making progress with some of them. And we’ve had to release a couple players that have meant a lot to our ballclub, guys like Fred Miller, Muhsin Muhammad, Darwin Walker, players that played a big part in what we did this past year. But with the new year change comes about. We feel excited about the direction we are going. Of course it is always good to come down to the combine. You feel like you get a chance to look at some other players that will be a part of your ballclub the next year. So, that’s where we are, I’ll take your questions.


It’s very important. Players that you’ve brought up, we drafted Bernard, we’ve seen him grow as a person, of course as a player. He’s a very good football player. He’s a 1 receiver. It’s important. Hopefully we can find a way to keep him in Chicago.


Well, of course we are keeping all options open. Right now, as much as anything, I am just interested in us trying to find a way, however we have to do it to keep him there.


Well, right now, just like most of our ballclub, we weren’t happy with everything that happened this past year. But right now Rex Grossman is an unrestricted free agent who is out there. We of course would like for him to come back, along with our two other quarterbacks we have right now. Every position we’re trying to improve right now. That’s where we are with the quarterback position and again hopefully we can stabilize it a little bit more coming up.


Well, we’re definitely not rebuilding. As far as Super Bowl window, it was a long time ago it seems like we played in the Super Bowl. But we like the core of our team still. I feel like we’re close. It’s a fine line between winning and losing. This past season it went the other way for us. The Super Bowl champion New York Giants had an excellent year, we were right in it with them right up until the end. So we feel like we are close. We’ll make a few changes which you do normally and go from there.


Again, that’s a long time ago thinking about what we talked about then. I know we do have a few things we do need to get taken care of right now though. But I feel like the good part about, I guess not being in the playoffs, is you get a chance to start the process a little bit quicker which we’ve been able to do. It’s been a while, we missed the last couple of Senior Bowls, we were down there watching them this year. So we have some holes but we feel like we are making progress.


Well, just like I said with Bernard, my entire time in Chicago I have been with Lance Briggs. He’s been an All-Pro player for us, how many teams would like to see an all-pro go somewhere else? So, I’m optimistic. My glass is half-full always. Hopefully, that will be the case. I know we have made statements, we realize when you have a player out there like Lance a lot of teams want him. We’re one of them that do.


We sure do. Mike is another part of the core. Even though he has missed a lot of games, Mike means quite a bit. I’m a big Mike Brown fan. I always have been. Yes, we would definitely like to have Mike back with us.

INDIANAPOLIS—Brief highlights from the remarks made by Lovie Smith:

1. He reiterated the club's desire to re-sign Rex Grossman.

2. He had optimism about the club's attempts to re-sign other impending free agents, including WR Bernard Berrian and LB Lance Briggs.

3. He said he wants S Mike Brown back for 2008.

It’s an interesting move by Lovie Smith to add an assistant defensive line coach to the mix in Northwestern’s Eric Washington.

It makes sense with the numbers on the line and the youth. The Bears are going to be counting on a big season next year from tackle Dusty Dvoracek, and will need a bounce back season from Mark Anderson at end. The team insists he graded out well for the season, but the fact is his production wasn’t nearly what it was as a rookie. Then there’s Matt Toeaina, the late-season pickup from Cincinnati, who made a nice impression in the final three games.

Fixing the Bears

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Lovie Smith said he was focused on fixing the Bears Monday more than studying the Dallas. Don't worrry, he will no doubt be up until the wee hours tonight and Tuesday dissecting the Cowboys.

So, we'll focus on the Bears and Sunday's game one more time before moving forward.

The punters, the blitz problems, Moose, Hester, big play, the exact location of Mark Bradley and the health beat, all below.

Lovie Smith said in his Monday press conference he is optimistic first-round draft pick Greg Olsen will make his debut Sunday night vs. Dallas. Olsen has missed the first two games with a sprained left knee.

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