Smith Says

Lovie Smith has a similar defensive background and quiet demeanor to Dick Jauron, but his time with the Rams has given him a different offensive philosophy.

The following is the entire transcript from Tuesday's press conference at Halas Hall with head-coaching finalist Lovie Smith.

Opening statement
"Thanks for coming out. I'm excited to be here. I know there's a head coach's job that's open. I've been waiting for a long time for an opportunity to be a head football coach in the National Football League. The Chicago Bears are a great organization. I know some of the people there, I've had a working relationship with Jerry Angelo in the past. My wife is a Chicago girl who is excited about us having the opportunity to talk about the head job here.

"I'm in for the second interview and excited about that and just want to go through the process and see what happens. I know about the tradition of the Chicago Bears and I know the passion that the fans have for the organization here. That's what I'm about as far as football is concerned, that passion for it, again, just excited about the opportunity to possibly lead this great organization."

Why do you think you're ready now to become a head coach?
"Well, I think I've gone through the proper channels to be a head football coach. I was a junior high coach, high school, worked up through college, went through the college ranks, got a chance to be on Tony Dungy's first staff at Tampa Bay as a position coach and then got an opportunity to be a coordinator. To me, this is a normal progress of a coach in the league and the next step is being a head football coach. I've been successful on all those different stages and am excited about the next step."

What is your offensive philosophy and who do you have in mind for the coordinator job?
"Right now as far as getting details about names, I'd rather not do that, but if you talk about just offensive philosophy, you look at what I've been around. Of course, my defensive philosophy is what we did in Tampa and what we've done in St. Louis. I got a chance in St. Louis to be around Mike Martz and see how an offense can work and really be a big part of what you're doing. So we're going to do something similar to what we did with the Rams with probably a little bit more emphasis on the run. The staff, we have someone in mind to run it, but right now we don't want to get into details about that."

What's the difference between a first and second interview?
"I've had a couple first interviews and didn't get a second, so this one right here they ask me to come back, I'm excited about that, I would like to think that there is more interest. Unfortunately I'm in a position right now to have a second interview because of our tough loss that we had this past week. I would just like to think that they want to know a little bit more about me."

Other than experience, what makes you a good candidate to be a head coach?
"I think the only thing people should really have a question about is that experience part. You can't get it until you get you first head job. As I was saying earlier, as an assistant coach all you can really do is come up through the ranks and when they put you in charge of something you have to be successful with it.

"I've had a chance to coach a lot of great players: Derrick Brooks, Hardy Nickerson, Aeneas Williams, Shawn Springs. I think I've been in situations with great offensive players. I've been around Marshall Faulk, Kurt Warner and guys like that. I think that's all you can do before you actually get that chance.

"As far as things I don't know that will possibly hinder me from being a great head football coach, I'm just naive enough to think that I have a lot of answers and know how to get it done and know that we can get it done if something can possibly be worked out here."

Have they given you a timeline?
"All I know is I'm here for a second interview. This is an important decision and they have to really take their time to make sure on who they get. Second interview for me, that's really all I know, that's really all I'm interested in. I wanted to have a chance to come back and talk about the head football job and that's what I'm getting a chance to do now."

How hands-on would you be as a head coach?
"Very much. I don't think you can ever leave what is your expertise as far as football is concerned, so I'll always have a hand and a special place in my heart for defensive football, but from defending different offenses, I think I know a little bit about what it takes to stop them and I will be giving my input quite a bit, but I see myself being on both sides of the football, contributing as much as possible, but our coordinators will run both sides of the football."

How much do you know about the Bears' roster and how close are they to being a playoff team?
"I know quite a bit about it from my experience with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of being in the conference with them. We had the chance to play them quite a bit, so I know the talent, I know some of the great players that we have here. I think all teams are close. You just look from year to year, the odds are the teams that aren't in the playoffs this year will be there next year. I think we're close. We have a good nucleus of young players. I think the core has been in place here for a long time and I think you just need a little bit more to boost the team to get over the top. Of course, I think I'm that boost."

The Rams defense struggled in its last two games. Was your candidacy a distraction to you or your defense?
"Well, no, I don't think so. You mention the last two games. You can look at the last two games, we didn't play good the last two games and we lost. I don't think it had anything to do with me looking at a job or anything else that's going on. When I look at St. Louis, I look at the entire time we were there.

"I look at the first year going to the Super Bowl, the last year having a 12-win season. There were a lot of great things we did there. I look to the 46 turnovers that we got. I look at how hard, the different mentality we brought to the Rams to go along with the high-powered offense. That's what I think of. It's hard when you lose the last game. One team is going to feel good this year, we're not feeling real good about that, but I'm still proud of the time that I've had there in St. Louis."

Why haven't you gotten head-coaching jobs in the past?
"I think it's a matter of preference. You like some people and others you don't. There's a fit that you know when you come into a room and when you meet someone. For whatever reason it's been a better fit for some other coaches that have gotten the job. The other jobs that have been filled have been filled by excellent guys, but I think there's a position right for everyone and I'm hoping this position is what's right for me."

Do you think Bears would have waited for you had the Rams still been alive in the playoffs?
"I think it's a lot easier to get a job when you're out of the playoffs. I wouldn't be interviewing. I think the more times they can see you, they can find out a lot more things about you and they're able to do that with me right now. Of course I would give up this chance for a second interview just like that for us to be getting ready this week for the championship game. I think there's a basic plan and that's part of the plan."

Would you have managed the last few minutes differently in the Rams' playoff loss than Mike Martz?
"I never second guess anyone. That's what Mike Martz has done. The decision he made at the end of the game the other day, that people tend to talk a lot about, he made the same one in the Arizona game and it turned out right and we went down and won.

"We didn't play well and we didn't make plays when we had to at the end of the game and that's how it goes. Mike Martz is an excellent football coach and has done some great things for them there and I don't question anything he's done."

Can you tell us about your relationship with Jerry Angelo?
"Yes, we both had a background starting together in Tampa as far as especially defensively on what we put together down there defensively -- the type of guys that you play with at certain positions. And then just being around someone for five years and knowing what they're looking for and things like that. I've known Jerry for a while. I haven't actually worked with him in this role. He was in a different role down there. I think it helps when you know someone and know a little bit about them. He knows a little bit about me and my family."

What do you think of the Bears' offense and what does it need to be better?
"What I believe in as a football coach and whether it's defense, offense or whatever, it's just tough, hard-nosed football. That's what Chicago football is all about. The fans, you think of the cold and people in short sleeves going out and cheering. When I think of the Bears I think of that; fans that love their team, that support them no matter what, and they want to see a good, hard-nosed football team out there on the field. That's what I've seen at times.

"The consistency probably wasn't there. That's why probably the coaching change was made. But I still see a nucleus of players that I talked about that I really like. And having the chance to go against them and prepare, you have a chance to really see what those players are really like and I think they can win. I think they just need a little boost, a little bit more energy, a change of scenery, and that's what I think we can bring. I'm not going to talk coaching staff. But the coaches I have in mind, the two systems that we would bring on both sides of the football, I think it's something that the players would like. It has a proven success rate that the players would really feel comfortable playing in."

What did you learn from Martz about bringing along a young QB?
"A lot of things. First off you have to identify talent, and we can all say that we have talent here from Rex. You just have to be patient with him. You have to have a good system in place for him. You have to have a good coach for him, a good quarterback coach for him, a good coordinator and him be able to fit into an offensive system that he'll feel comfortable with. I think we can bring that to him. He's a young player, they take a little bit of time for them to really get into their groove, but I think he'll be able to do that."

Martz says that he becomes a bit of a spectator when the defense is on the field. Will you become a spectator when the offense is on field?
"Mike's a little bit different. Mike's the offensive coordinator also. I'm not going to run it that way. We talked about it a little bit earlier. I'm going to be over both of them. I'm going to be involved with the offense and the defense and let the coordinators call the plays. But all things will go through me. There's enough to do with the game management for a head football coach to just do that. We're going to be a little different on how we would set it up."

Is the defense resentful of an offense that takes risks?
"I don't see it that way at all. To me, a defense has a couple jobs. One is to stop the offense, no matter what situation you're placed in. But the ultimate goal is to score and that's what we try to do on defense as much as possible. But whatever situation you're in, it's your job as a defense to go out and stop them. Whether it's high risk … sometimes high risks will bring big rewards, and that's what we got the majority of the time in St. Louis."

You keep saying "we" in reference to Bears. Do you expect when you leave here that you'll have the job?
"I have confidence in myself to be a head football coach in the National Football League. I'm getting the chance to show people that right now. You could ask a lot of guys, and they would say the same thing. I think God put me on the earth to lead a team, and I hope that it's the Bears."

What are your thoughts on Rex Grossman?
"I like him as a player; he's a young player with talent. He did well at the end of the season this past year. I haven't studied him in detail an awful lot. The Bears will go as he goes. I think the future can be bright with him leading."

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