LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- One of two holdovers on the Chicago Bears' coaching staff from the previous regime, defensive backs coach Jon Hoke is happy to still be a part of the organization after Lovie Smith's nine-year run ended on Dec. 31.
Hired by Smith on January 13, 2009 after a successful seven-year stint with the Houston Texans, Hoke oversaw a unit last year that not only produced a pair of Pro Bowl cornerbacks (Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings), but also enjoyed consistent and productive play from safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright, a huge improvement from the previous year when the Bears were forced to start numerous safety combinations due to injuries and ineffectiveness.
Even with such a solid track record, Hoke admitted to feeling a certain degree of uneasiness right after Smith was fired. But after dismissing the majority of Smith's staff, new Bears head coach Marc Trestman decided to stick with Hoke and defensive line coach Mike Phair.
"You never know," Hoke said Thursday. "You didn't know if you were going to have any other opportunities out there. My family situation was very important to me because I've got two twin girls that are still sophomores in high school. But you just never know how things are going to turn out, that's why I'm extremely fortunate and thankful that I was able to stay.
"Coach (Trestman) knew about me. He had researched. He's a very detailed guy. We had some very good conversations once he got hired. And again, I'm just so thankful it all worked out."
Hoke, a former defensive coordinator at the University of Florida, was a strong in-house candidate to replace ex-Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. But that job eventually went to long-time acquaintance Mel Tucker, who like Hoke, hails from the state of Ohio.
But Hoke has no regrets. He is content working with the team's secondary, a group that once again figures to be a strength of the defense, while at the same time answering whatever questions Trestman, Tucker or any of the other coaches might have about current personnel.
"Probably that more than anything else, you know, what do you think of this guy? Or how did this guy do?," Hoke said. "We are still in that process right now. They'll ask certain questions, but I'm not saying they ask a ton because they are doing a great job of formulating their own opinions themselves. Having new eyes on people is a good thing."