Bears head coach Lovie Smith was interviewed on NFL Total Access on the NFL Network Monday night. Here’s a transcript of his interview:
What made you unhappy about last year?
Just how we finished. Started strong, winning our first game. Lost some tough, some close games. We fought ourselves back to get back in position where we went into that last football game needing a win to get into the playoffs, and we didn’t get the job done.
Having finished your minicamp, what are your team’s strengths?
Chicago, as far back as you can go, you think Chicago and defensive football. That has to be our strength. But the strength of our offense is us being able to run the football, and getting good, consistent play from our quarterback position.
What are your plans for Devin Hester? How will you use him in 2009?
Devin will always do some type of returns for us. He’ll be our punt returner this coming year. Then we’ll try to bring him along as a receiver, continue his growth as a receiver. He made a lot of progress at the end of the year. The last four games or so, we saw a legitimate 1-2 receiver. He was catching balls from two different guys. This year, he should just lock in with his quarterback.
You added Rod Marinelli. What does he bring to your team?
A lot. He’s the assistant head football coach and he’ll help me with a lot of those duties. But as a defensive line coach, he’s bringing expertise. We have some excellent defensive linemen that can go to that next level, and I know Rod can help them get there.
You’re going to be calling the defensive signals this coming season. Why?
Most head coaches would like to be a little bit more involved than they are. There’s no more than that. I just feel like I can help the team in the best way calling the defensive signals this year.
Who are some of the people that have made an influence on you in terms of coaching?
Of course, Tom Landry. George Halas, how he was as a coach. Tony Dungy. I’ve talked a lot about Tony. My first job in the National Football League, seeing him, that was my picture of what the league was like and what a coach, how he behaved, not only as a football coach but just as a man in general.