Where Is the Love for Lovie Smith's Coaching Staff?
The Chicago Bears coaching staff will have two new faces going into the 2009 season on the defensive side of the ball.
This is important because in order for the Bears to have success, it must start with quality leadership. And that mostly comes from head coach Lovie Smith.
The soft-spoken but carries a big stick head coach, Lovie Smith, is now in his fifth year as the HC of the Bears. He is the 13th head coach in team history.
Smith is a defensive minded coach whose philosophy is to create pressure on opposing teams through an aggressive attacking style of play. He previously served as the defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams from 2001-2003. From 1996-2000, Smith was the linebackers coach on those notoriously hard-hitting Tampa Bay defenses of the ‘90s.
Lovie is known for his calmness under pressure and ability to resurrect change though teaching and motivating young talent.
This led Smith to state in January that he would be more involved in the defensive play calling.
With that said, Bob Babich, the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach was retained for 2009 and heads into his second year as the DC. Babich has been with the Bears since the beginning of Lovie Smith tenure, 2004. He was the linebackers coach from 2004-2007 and earned the title assistant head coach in 2006, the year the Bears played in the Super Bowl.
Before joining the Bears, Babich served as the linebackers coach under Smith in 2003. The previous 19 years saw Babich coaching at the collegiate level with the final six years holding the head coaching position at North Dakota State University.
Babich led a defense that ranked sixth in 2007, and saw DT Tommie Harris go to his third straight Pro-Bowl.
In 2008, the defense slipped to 21st overall and Chicago didn’t make the playoffs. For 2009, Babich will maintain the title of defensive coordinator; however, he will now just focus mainly on the linebackers.
Babich will be joined by newly hired assistant head coach and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. Marinelli fills a void as former D-line coach, Brick Haley, was fired this past offseason.
Marinelli has previous experience with Smith as the two worked together in Tampa Bay. Rod is coming off the disastrous 0-16 year as the head coach of the Detroit Lions.
His previous coaching experience includes serving as the head coach for the Detroit Lions (2006-2008), assistant head coach/defensive line coach for Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002-2005), defensive line coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1996-2001), and defensive line coach for the University of Southern California Trojans.
Like Smith, Marinelli is a defensive-minded coach whose tough disciplinary attitude will demand production from the D-line.
Jon Hoke takes over for Steve Wilks as defensive backs coach. For the past seven seasons, Hoke served as the DBs coach for the Houston Texans. He spent his previous three seasons at the University of Florida, where he was the defensive coordinator.
There is a connection between Lovie Smith and Hoke because of Hoke’s frequent visits to Tampa in order to learn from Smith.
Hoke was a cornerback on the 1980 Chicago Bears.
As for the offensive side of the ball, the coaching staff remains as it did in 2008.
Ron Turner remains as the OC and the play-caller for the Bears’ offense. Turner is working on his fourth consecutive year as the offensive coordinator. He was previously the head coach at the University of Illinois. Turner has prior experience with the Bears organization, as he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach during the Wannstedt era.
Turner has orchestrated five of the top 23 offenses in Bears history and guided them to a 15th place ranking in 2006, and a Super Bowl appearance.
Turner, along with quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton, now has a new weapon on their hands with Jay Cutler.
Hamilton returns for his second season as quarterbacks coach whose previous body of work includes tutoring Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman, Alex Smith (San Francisco), and Quincy Carter (New York Jets).
Dave Toub returns for his fifth year as the special teams coach. Under Toub, the Bears’ special teams have ranked in the top third of the league each year.
Toub had previously worked as the special teams coach for the Philadelphia Eagles (2001-2003) and twelve years (the last three as defensive line coach) with the University of Missouri Tigers before making the leap to the National Football League.
For the Chicago Bears to be successful in the 2009, they will have to lean on Marinelli and Hoke’s 20+ of NFL experience on the defensive side of ball. With Smith doing the bulk of the play calling, it seems the Bear’s formidable defense will rise again.
With the offensive coaching staff coming back looking to regain it swagger of the 2006 season, look for Ron Turner to expand the playbook just a bit, especially with Jay Cutler now under center.
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