Connecting dots between Chicago and Marinelli

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Here's an NFC North question to ponder: Could Rod Marinelli find himself dressed in a different Black and Blue uniform next season?

Marinelli, fired Monday after three seasons as Detroit's coach, told reporters he wants to coach next season. And coincidentally, his name surfaced in Chicago during Bears coach Lovie Smith's season-ending news conference. Marinelli and Smith were assistants together in Tampa Bay, and according to the Chicago Sun-Times, Marinelli was Smith's first choice to be defensive coordinator when he took the Bears job in 2004.

As of Monday, of course, the Bears had no openings. But Smith said he has made no decisions about the future makeup of his staff -- including the continued employment of defensive coordinator Bob Babich and defensive line coach Brick Haley, among others.

Here's what Smith said Monday about potential changes, courtesy of Brad Biggs of the Sun-Times:

"We'll evaluate everything, as I said, players, coaches and all. Every year there is change. I don't know if we'll have change right now. I can't comment on any of that right now. We've just started our evaluation process and we'll kind of go from there."

Smith was noncommittal when asked directly about Marinelli, according to Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune:

"Rod Marinelli is an excellent football coach. I've known him for a long time," Smith said. "I worked with him. But, again, that doesn't have anything to do with what we're doing right now. I was just sad to see an excellent football coach not be the coach for Detroit anymore."

This isn't to suggest that Smith wants to bring in Marinelli. A lot has changed since 2004. But let's just say there are a lot of eyes focused on Smith's intentions for resurrecting a defense that collapsed this season.