Lovie Smith talks Bears

Former Bears head coach Lovie Smith served as a guest analyst on ESPN and discussed his former team. View his comments below.

On Thursday, former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith appeared as a guest analyst on ESPN's NFL Live. Smith spoke with host Wendi Nix about how the Bears' 2012 season ended, quarterback Jay Cutler and more. Excerpts:

On his departure from Chicago…
It's tough, but you know, that is the NFL. You are disappointed. You mention 7-1. But it's hard to win in the NFL. And for us to finish 3-5 and finish up with a 10-6 season, it's hard to go 10-6. But my nine years in Chicago were great. Met a lot of great people. My family loved it. It was just time for them to go in a different direction, and I'm going to do the same.

On taking a year off of coaching…
I think you have to have a plan on everything in life. My plan all along, you know, eventually you're going to get that call where the team is going in a different direction. And my plan was to just sit back, take a little time off, you know, get to know the family a little bit better, study football and just do some things that I never had a chance to do. So, that was just the base part of the plan. But I'm not retired. I'm just going to take this year off and get back in it next year…

When you've been in something as long as I have, I mean, you're going to miss some aspects of it. But you look at it from the fans' point of view -- I know minicamps are going on, you have the draft coming up. And that's an exciting time, but I can just enjoy it from a different perspective.

On Brian Urlacher and what will the Bears miss most without him…
So much. You know, you look at every organization, every football team. There's a face of the franchise and there couldn't have been -- there can't be a better player to represent an organization than Brian Urlacher had on the field. My nine years there, he was our linebacker corps; he did so much, coach on the field. Great guy. So it will be different not seeing number 54 there, but with time things change and this is a different year.

On Jay Cutler…
Same thing as I talk about, you know, face, they're important guys to every franchise. You have to have that quarterback in place. And Chicago has that in Jay Cutler. And he'll do everything that you're looking for a special quarterback to do: great arm, mobile guy in the pocket. And as a quarterback, you want to get to your contract year like he has and play your best ball.

On whether Cutler is misunderstood…
It's hard to say whether he's misunderstood or not. I think when you're in that position you get criticized a lot. Everything you do is watched and that's been the case with Jay. There's been some incidents where, you know, he would probably like them not to happen that way. But that's just a part of it. I know his teammates have his back, and they're expecting big things from him this year.

On Devin Hester and the Bears possibly expanding his role on special teams…
I think whenever you can get the ball in Devin Hester's hands, it's a good thing. And you start off with him being a returner; he's the greatest returner of all time. So that's big. What I tried to do when I was there, I wanted that and to give him a little bit more. It hasn't turned out that way, but I just think you need him on your football team in some kind of way.


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