INDIANAPOLIS -- A hot defensive coordinator candidate two offseasons ago, former Bears assistant Perry Fewell appeared destined to return to Chicago for reunion with Lovie Smith. The Bears, after all, were searching for a new defensive coordinator after Smith spent 2009 calling the defense while Bob Babich went back to coaching the linebackers. Fewell, an experienced NFL assistant and former interim head coach of the Buffalo Bills, seemed like a natural fit after coaching in Smith's defense during previous stops in Chicago and St. Louis.
Instead, Fewell went to New York and became Tom Coughlin's defensive coordinator. The rationale behind the decision, according to Fewell, was simple: Smith will always call the shots on defense in Chicago, not the person with the title of defensive coordinator.
"I loved coach Lovie Smith and enjoyed my time in Chicago, [but] I knew that was coach Smith's defense," Fewell said Tuesday at Super Bowl XLVI media day. "He is an excellent defensive coach....but I just thought at the time I probably needed to step out on my own and run my own defense.'
"It was always going to be coach Smith's defense, and if I was going to make my mark in coaching, I had to do it Perry Fewell's way. So that's really one of the main reasons I came to New York."
Fewell claims to be still be on good terms with Smith, who eventually promoted respected defensive line coach Rod Marinelli to the role of defensive coordinator.
"I still love coach Lovie Smith," Fewell said. "I owe him a lot for my success in coaching, some of the philosophies I've adopted. The structure of who were are and what we do, all of that is attributed to him.'
"But I knew coming into the situation [in New York] that we had a good front four. These guys, Jerry Reese who is our general manager, he likes to bring in good defensive ends. So I felt like that would be a good match for me."