Smith is pounding the pavement because he was fired by the Chicago Bears after nine years, despite a 10-6 record this season. After starting 7-1, his team closed the season at 3-5. He was 81-63 over his tenure in Chicago and led the Bears to a Super Bowl in 2006, three division titles and a pair of NFC Championship appearances.
Last week Smith interviewed for the Buffalo Bills top job, but they hired former Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, who had a 25-25 record at a program of little prominence.
Also on the Eagles’ list to interview are Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. The Eagles have already have met with Atlanta assistants Mike Nolan and Keith Armstrong, Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and Penn State’s Bill O’Brien and Oregon’s Chip Kelly, the latter two choosing to remain with their schools.
Clearly, the Eagles are taking their time and being thorough in their search.
Smith, 54, took over the Bears in 2004 after serving as defensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams. What could work against Smith is that teams seem to be focusing on hiring coaches with an offensive slant.
He is one of the finest defensive minds in the game. Smith’s teams finished in the top four in points allowed and yards allowed four times, including this season. But Chicago continually struggled for points during his reign, even with gun-slinging quarterback Jay Cutler. The Bears never finished higher than 15th in total yards under Smith.
Still, he had only three losing seasons against six winning years. Catastrophic for Smith was that his team did not earn a playoff berth in five of his last six years.