Bears make first change, fire coordinator Turner

The Bears have fired offensive coordinator Ron Turner as expected, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Turner was on the hot seat after a poor season during which QB Jay Cutler struggled after coming over in a trade from the Broncos. Other changes could come on the offensive staff.

Jeremy Bates, an assistant at USC who coached Cutler with the Broncos, is a very strong candidate for the coordinator position. Former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis and former Rams coach Mike Martz are expected to receive consideration as well.

While Turner is out, Lovie Smith is almost certain to return as coach next season, according to league sources. However, Smith, who runs a defense that struggled this season, could have his play-calling duties stripped, which might lead to someone else making the defensive calls in 2010.

There has been no movement with the defensive staff. Rod Marinelli could be promoted to coordinator, though a team source said there has been no indication of that to this point. Smith has been running the defense for years, so even if someone else became the coordinator, it might not change that fact.

The Bears (7-9) have a news conference scheduled for later today, during which the Turner firing will be announced.

UPDATE: The Bears issued a one-sentence news release confirming the firing of Turner. Tight ends coach Rob Boras, offensive assistant/assistant offensive line coach Luke Butkus, quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton, offensive line coach Harry Hiestand and offensive assistant/assistant wide receivers coach Charles London also were let go.

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