Eagles interview Lovie Smith

ASSOCIATED PRESS Lovie Smith, who interviewed with Eagles, was a victim of the Bears' GM change.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Lovie Smith, who interviewed with Eagles, was a victim of the Bears' GM change.
Posted: January 11, 2013

THE EAGLES talked to Lovie Smith Thursday about their vacant head-coaching position. They weren't saying any more than that; no details were released.

Smith, 54, fired by the Bears the day after missing the playoffs with a 10-6 record, is the only former NFL head coach the Birds have talked to. As we've noted previously, he doesn't seem to fit some of the criteria team chairman Jeffrey Lurie laid out - Lurie seemed to start his search looking for a youngish, cutting-edge difference-maker who would take advantage of the league's shift toward high-octane offense. But even though he missed the playoffs 5 of the last 6 years, and built his reputation as a defensive coach, Smith went 81-63 in Chicago, with constant turmoil roiling around him, especially at the quarterback position.

Former Tampa Bay and Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy told CSNPhilly.com Thursday that Smith would be a good choice for the Eagles. Of course, it helps to bear in mind that Smith was a big part of Dungy's Tampa staff before moving to St. Louis, where he helped the Rams win a Super Bowl.

"Getting people to play well and be in contention all the time. It's not that easy. I know Lovie can do that," Dungy said. "If you're in it, you have a chance to win. Lovie is good. Wherever he lands, they will win."

Smith seems to have a lot in common with former Eagles coach Andy Reid, right down to the understated personality, the refusal to call out underachieving players, and the tendency to make questionable time-management decisions during games.

"People want demonstrative stuff. Frankly, that was one of the problems in Chicago," Dungy said. "People wanted Mike Ditka, and when you're not Mike Ditka, if you win, that's great. But as soon as you don't win, it's, 'We should have what we want.' "

That sounds uncannily familiar.

"I think that's always going to be the case with Lovie. He's never going to be a caricature of someone else, but it's gotten good results," Dungy said. "He's been a head coach who went to the Super Bowl. If you just look at results, they're pretty good."

Speaking of Ditka, Iron Mike was outraged when Smith was fired, though the move wasn't a huge shock; general manager Jerry Angelo was fired last year after several questionable personnel decisions, and his successor, Phil Emery, was told he had to keep Smith on for a year. When the Bears missed the playoffs, Emery decided he wanted to hire his own coach.

"I think Lovie is a very good coach," Ditka said in an ESPN radio interview the day after the firing. "Everybody is a little bit different in their manner. I think that's a 10-win season. They started 7-1. This team, there's a reason they lost some games in between. A lot of the wins they got in the 7-1 run were because of turnovers by the defense [that] were turned into points. The offense didn't score enough points in those other games. That's the bottom line."

Ditka noted that the Bears won their finale against Detroit, and missed the playoffs only because the Vikings defeated the Packers later that night.

"If Minnesota would have lost . . . and the Bears were in the playoffs, this wouldn't have happened. That's a fact," Ditka said. "So how stupid is it then? It really is stupid . . . the organization doesn't need turning around like a lot of the other ones. If they want to get back to the Super Bowl, you're going to have to have the right players. Don't ask me how you get through the season without key injuries."

The Eagles still are expected to interview Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Gruden interviewed in Arizona Thursday and told reporters there his Eagles interview is set for this week.

Bradley spoke to reporters as the Seahawks prepared to travel to Atlanta (where one would think the Eagles will interview him) for their Sunday game. All he said about the possibility of becoming a head coach was that he was focused on the Falcons.


The Eagles' Fletcher Cox was named to the Pro Football Weekly / Pro Football Writers all-rookie team. His 5 1/2 sacks led NFL rookie defensive tackles.

On Twitter: @LesBowen

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