Lovie Smith is almost certain to return as coach of the Chicago Bears next season, according to league sources, but major changes could be coming for a team that struggled on both sides of the ball and fell short of expectations.
Smith is spending Tuesday morning at Halas Hall meeting privately with each coach on his staff, and there has been a feeling in that building for weeks that offensive coordinator Ron Turner is on his way out with QB Jay Cutler struggling in his first season in Chicago. That feeling came to fruition Tuesday, as the Chicago Tribune reported that Turner was fired.
Smith has been agonizing over the situation, but with Turner gone, USC coordinator Jeremy Bates, who worked with Cutler in Denver, and former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis are possibilities. The Bears would have also had interest in Texans head coach Gary Kubiak had he been let go, and his assistant coach Kyle Shanahan, who will be joining his father, Mike, as his offensive coordinator in Washington, once his contract with the Redskins becomes official.
Smith, who runs the defense — a unit that struggled for much of the season — could have his play-calling duties stripped, which may lead to someone else making the defensive calls in 2010.
If Smith no longer runs the defense, defensive line coach and former Detroit head coach Rod Marinelli is a possible candidate to take over.