Former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith will sit out the 2013 NFL season, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Smith would likely be a top candidate for defensive coordinator openings with the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints, but he wants to return to the league as a head coach.
Smith has a strong defensive pedigree, having spent time as linebackers coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996-2000 and defensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams from 2001-03. However, after serving as head coach in Chicago for nine seasons, Smith apparently doesn't want to take a step down the coaching ladder.
Smith compiled an 81-63 record in Chicago and led the Bears to three playoff appearances. The highlight of his stay in the Windy City came in 2006, when his team won the NFC Championship Game and advanced to Super Bowl XLI. Chicago lost that game to Tony Dungy and the Indianapolis Colts.
Since his lone Super Bowl appearance, Chicago has failed to meet expectations under Smith. The Bears missed the playoffs in five of the last six years and finished with an 8-8 record or worse three times.
While Smith hopes to return as a head coach in 2014, there's no guarantee that a position will be available. A total of seven head coaches were fired after the 2012 regular season, and 17 will enter 2013 with a tenure of two years or fewer with their current teams.