CHICAGO -- Unable to find outside help, the Chicago Bears have promoted Rod Marinelli to defensive coordinator while rounding out their coaching staff.
Coach Lovie Smith announced the move Friday and called Marinelli "among the best defensive coaches in the NFL."
"From the first day I became head coach of the Chicago Bears I envisioned Rod as our defensive coordinator," he said. "I considered him for the role last year, but wanted him to have the opportunity to work exclusively with our defensive line and become acclimated to our team."
Marinelli and Smith are friends who worked on Tony Dungy's staff in Tampa Bay and even roomed together for part of that time. So it was no surprise that he wound up in Chicago despite a 10-38 run with the Lions that ended with a winless season.
"I'm very excited," Marinelli told chicagobears.com. "The defensive staff has all worked together, so it's just a chance to keep going and build on the subtleties of our system. We've all been in it together and I think the familiarity will help."
Marinelli, who retains his assistant head coach title, worked with the Bears' defensive line this season after spending three years as the Detroit Lions' head coach. He will essentially replace Smith, who called defensive plays last season even though linebackers coach Bob Babich still held the defensive coordinator title.
Marinelli will continue to work with the defensive line, but the coordinator role is new for him. He's never been one in the NFL, but the Bears turned to him, ending a search that had taken a back seat as they focused on the offensive side following a 7-9 season.
They hired Mike Martz to replace the fired Ron Turner as offensive coordinator this week, creating an interesting scenario. He was fired as the Lions' offensive coordinator when Marinelli was the head coach.
Now, they're united again and Martz insisted during a conference call he had no ill will.
Smith initially said he would look outside for a defensive coordinator and that Marinelli wasn't in the running, but the only candidate known to interview was former assistant Perry Fewell, who ended last season as Buffalo's interim coach. He wound up becoming the New York Giants' defensive coordinator.
"As I mentioned at the end of the season, I think we have an excellent defensive staff," Smith said. "Our position coaches bring a valuable expertise to their respective areas and our defense evolves every year based on the input they bring to our planning meetings. We are excited to get to work and we expect to play the type of disruptive defense we have been known for."
The Bears also promoted Eric Washington from assistant defensive line coach to defensive line coach and hired Shane Day as quarterbacks coach on Friday. Washington was Chicago's assistant defensive line coach for two seasons, while Day spent three years as the San Francisco 49ers quality control coach.
This year, Chicago's line produced 24 sacks -- tied for ninth most in the NFL among defensive fronts.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press