Lovie Smith Taking Back the Defense

Confusing coaching swap moves Babich to linebackers coach -- we think

For much of the Bears offseason, talk not devoted to whether or not the Bears will sign a quarterback has been devoted to whether or not defensive coordinator Bob Babich was going to bite the bullet. After all, the defense has noticeably worsened under his tenure, and even if some of that has to do with injuries (Tommie Harris) and age (Brian Urlacher), coaches don't get to use "injuries" and "age" as excuses very often. It's unfair, sure, but that's how it works.

Still, despite the talk -- and the firings of positions coaches, like linebackers coach Lloyd Lee -- Babich has survived. His official title is still defensive coordinator. But will he be calling the plays again? That's where, at least according to Lovie today, things get a tad bit murky:

Smith, addressing the media via conference call Tuesday, said defensive coordinator Bob Babich would remain in his role but also would serve as the linebackers coach, replacing Lloyd Lee. Babich spent three years as the linebackers coach before being promoted to defensive coordinator.

"After my evaluation, these are the changes I thought were necessary,'' Smith said."Getting rid of Bob Babich was not a part of that. Bob's duties have changed, like all of our guys duties have changed. But no one is in the same position that they were, defensively, last year. So there weren't any scapegoats. The guys I thought didn't need to be here anymore, we needed to go a different direction from, we did that. The ones that stayed, I think these guys all bring something to the table."

In other words, the Bears are planning on keeping Bob Babich, and they aren't officially demoting him -- he'll still be "in his role" -- but they are also making him the linebackers coach. Which means that he'd either be pulling double coaching duty on a professional football team, which never happens, or that Smith is demoting him without officially demoting him. Babich gets to keep his title and his money; Lovie moves in to do the coordination work.

If so, consider us on board with the decision. Babich made his bones as a linebackers coach, much like Rod Marinelli did on the defensive line, and much like Lovie Smith did as a defensive coordinator in the years before he got the Bears job. The notion that all three could be performing their old jobs, but under different titles, is admittedly sort of weird. But if it gets the job done, we won't be complaining. After last year's defensive paucity, almost any adjustment will be an improvement.

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