When it comes down to the makeup of his coaching staff, Chicago Bears head coach likes what he sees entering the 2010 season.
The Bears promoted defensive line coach Rod Marinelli to defensive coordinator and hired offensive guru Mike Martz as the offensive coordinator this off-season. Mike Tice was also hired to head the offensive line.
"Getting Mike Martz, a guy that I've worked with in St. Louis, had a lot of success with, will just bring a new dimension to our offense that we're very excited about," Smith said at Friday's NFL Scouting Combine.
Smith said the team is still in the evaluation process as far as the roster goes. He said the next phase will involve seeing if the Bears can bring in other veteran players.
ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter believes the Bears need to make offensive weapons a priority in order for quarterback Jay Cutler to progress.
"They need Jay Cutler to turn it around," Schefter said. "They need to do whatever possible to give him enough weapons to turn things around.
"The problem is they don't have their first pick and they don't have their second round pick, so they have to figure out a way in free agency to find some weapons to bring in."
Those free agent weapons could include unrestricted free agents Torry Holt, Terrell Owens, Chris Chambers and Nate Burleson.
Martz's offense is one known for its aerial attack and the Bears lack a true No. 1 wide receiver, while 2007 first round tight end Greg Olsen has failed to breakout. The Martz scheme is also known for doing something Cutler did plenty of in 2009: turning the ball over.
Statistically, 2009 was Cutler's worst full season as a starter, as he went just 7-9, throwing for 3,666 yards, 27 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. He was also sacked a career-high 35 times.
"You have to live with some turnovers, some I'll stress," Smith said. "...Mike will push the ball on offense, will push the ball up the field. I think you can push the ball up and keep the turnovers at a minimum."
Olsen led the Bears in receptions (60) and touchdowns (eight) last year with Devin Hester hauling in a team-leading 757 yards. Wide receivers Earl Bennett, Devin Aromashodu and Johnny Knox had what could be considered breakout seasons under Cutler in 2009.
Despite the numbers and potential the Bears show small promise of a top—flight receiver emerging from the pack. Hester is expected to resume a return role again, with Knox and Bennett often struggling with their hands. Smith thinks the position has a chance to shine under Martz, though.
"Even though we're young, I really feel like that maybe the deepest position on our ball club," he said. "Even a guy like Juaquin Iglesias that didn't get a chance to play this last year, I saw a lot of good things that he did during practice against our [No. 1] defense last year. "
As far as Olsen goes, questions are raised if he will be in Chicago in 2010, seeing how the Martz offense rarely uses the tight end in the passing game. Former St. Louis tight end, Brandon Manumaleuna has been linked to the Bears. Manumaleuna was a blocking tight end for Martz with the Rams.
Smith also did not rule out a change coming at the running back position. Matt Forte caught 57 passes for 471 yards and rushed for 929 yards on 258 carries (3.6 ypc) with four total touchdowns.
Backup Garrett Wolfe (22 carries, 120 yds, one TD) was rarely used on offense and missed time with a lacerated kidney. Rookie Kahlil Bell (40 car, 220 yds, zero TD) came on at the end of the season.
"We're trying to improve our ball club at all positions," he said. "This past year we weren't as pleased as we'd like to be at our running back situation. So we'll look at everyone that's available."
Notable unrestricted free agents at running back include LaDanian Tomlinson, Brian Westbrook, Larry Johnson, Jamal Lewis, Willie Parker and Chester Taylor.
***NOTE: Photo by Jerry Burnes. Copyright 2010 Jerry Burnes. Please do not reuse without artist's consent.***