Shea in, Rivera next?

After being named head coach Lovie Smith's the top priority was to find someone to lead the offense. With the hiring of Terry Shea that has been accomplished and now the focus turns to finding a defensive coordinator. Could it be a former Bear?

On one hand Lovie Smith got his first choice for offensive coordinator, but will not be the case on the defensive side of the ball. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers denied the Bears permission to interview their defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, who has a relationship with smith dating back to his days with the team.

While the situation frustrated Smith, he has no other choice but to move forward.

"I of course think that every coach should have an opportunity to advance in his profession, Rod hasn't been able to do that but that's how it goes. That's the rules say, so we'll both move on," Smith said.

Smith's second option was Larry Marmie, who ended up replacing him in St. Louis.

So now it appears that Ron Rivera, who spent 9 seasons with the Bears as a player and two as coach, could return to Chicago. He will interview with Smith Friday.

"I was told he played pretty decent football around here," Smith said of Rivera. "I know he's done an excellent job with the Eagles."

Rivera has been the Philadelphia Eagles linebackers coach since 1999.

The fact that Smith, Shea and his defensive coordinator could all be handling their responsibilities for the first time in the NFL doesn't bother the head coach.

"I think the key thing is how good are the guys we're brining in," Smith said. "Terry Shea knows football, I think I know football and the defensive coordinator that we bring in he'll know (football). Everyone has to have a first time so I have no problem at all."

Although Rivera is not the only candidate the Bears are considering for the defensive coordinator position, Smith wants to make a decision quickly.

It looks like the only assistant from Dick Jauron's staff that could remain with the team is cornerbacks coach Vance Bedford. However he is considering offers from both Arizona and Pittsburgh.

NOTE: C Olin Kreutz has pulled out of the Pro Bowl because of a bruised knee and sprained ankle. He was replaced by Green Bay's Mike Flanagan.

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