Philadelphia

Philadelphia

This is a change of pace for the Eagles.

Team brass on Thursday will interview Lovie Smith, the former Bears head coach, for its head coaching vacancy. Smith took Chicago to the 2006 Super Bowl and posted an 81-63 record in nine seasons there before being fired last Monday.

Smith will become just the second former NFL head coach behind Mike Nolan to interview with the Eagles, who have interviewed five candidates and announced intentions to meet with three more before adding Smith as they seek a successor to Andy Reid, who was also fired last Monday.

Smith took the Bears to the playoffs three times in nine seasons and his .563 percentage is third-best in team history behind legendary George Halas (.682) and Super Bowl-champion coach Mike Ditka (.631).

He was fired despite winning 10 games this past season and finishing tied for second in the NFC North, edged for the final wild-card spot by division rival Minnesota. Smith went 8-8 in 2011 and hasnt finished with a losing record since going 7-9 in 2009, just his second losing year since his 2004 debut season with the Bears.

With the Eagles intention to interview Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley already announced, Smith becomes the third defensive-minded coach on the teams radar and easily the most accomplished.

Smith, a proponent of the Tampa 2 defense from his days as an assistant on Tony Dungys staff with the Buccaneers, was the defensive coordinator for the 2001 Rams team that beat the Eagles, 29-24, in the NFC Championship game.

As a defensive coordinator or head coach, Smiths teams have finished with a top-10 total defense five times and a top-10 scoring defense five times. The Bears led the NFL in scoring defense in 2005 when they allowed just 12.6 points per game.

 

Team owner Jeffrey Luries inclusion of Smith to his interview list shows the search committees broad scope of candidates to replace Reid, who coached the Eagles for 14 seasons and is the franchises all-time leader in regular-season and playoff wins.

The trio of Lurie, president Don Smolenski and general manager Howie Roseman has already interviewed two college coaches -- Penn States Bill OBrien and Oregons Chip Kelly -- along with Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong and Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

At 54, Smith is the second-oldest of the candidates so far on the Eagles radar but he blends with Luries vision of finding another head coach with qualities that Reid possessed. Like Reid, Smith is known to be soft-spoken, reserved and not reveal much of his personality in his press conferences.

Smith went 4-2 head-to-head against Reid and held the Eagles to an average of just under 22 points per game.

But also like Reid, Smith is a proven winner whose pedigree -- in his case, defense -- had become the bedrock of the teams hes coached. Smiths defenses are renowned for causing disruption and creating turnovers, which is exactly the opposite reputation the Eagles have cultivated over the past few years.

Nine times in Smiths 12 seasons as a head coach or coordinator Smiths teams have placed top 10 in fumble recoveries and eight times in interceptions. Smith has had three teams lead the NFL in fumble recoveries and three finish first or second in interceptions.

Four of Smiths defenses have finished in the top 10 in turnover margin and four have led the NFL in takeaways. This past year, the Bears led the NFL with 44 takeaways. Two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Peanut Tillman has thrived in Smiths Tampa 2 scheme, with a franchise-tying 33 interceptions in 142 career starts. His 37 forced fumbles are the most by a defensive back since 2003.

Tillman this past season bypassed former Bears safety Mike Brown for the franchise record for most defensive touchdowns with eight. In a November game against Tennessee, Tillman forced four fumbles. He finished the year with an NFL-most 10 forced fumbles and he has shared or owned the league lead in interception returns for touchdowns each of the past two seasons.

E-mail Geoff Mosher at gmosher@comcastsportsnet.com