Source: Lovie Smith, Bills to talk
The Bills flagship radio station, WGR, reported the news early Thursday. A source said the meeting will take place in Arizona.
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The Bears fired Smith on Monday after the club failed to reach the postseason for the fifth time in the past six years, due in large part to a stagnant and inconsistent offense. The Bears won 10 games in 2012, giving Smith a lifetime record of 84-66 (including postseason) at the time of his ouster. Over nine seasons in Chicago, Smith won three division titles and reached the Super Bowl in the 2006 season.
Many of the Bears' assistant coaches who are currently under contract with the team are expected to follow Smith if he lands another head coaching job.
The challenge for Smith would be hiring the correct offensive coordinator, a task he struggled with during his time in Chicago. Smith is believed to have a solid relationship with former Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson, who despite coaching the Cincinnati Bengals' secondary this season, is still considered one of the NFL's bright offensive minds. Jackson was scheduled to interview for the Bears' offensive coordinator position in 2010, but he accepted the same job in Oakland before he ever spoke with the Bears. Jackson called plays for the Raiders in 2010 before being elevated to head coach the following season. Although the Raiders finished 8-8, Jackson got fired after just one year.
Another high-profile offensive coordinator who might interest Smith is former Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur.
Meanwhile, Bears general manager Phil Emery remains hard at work searching for Smith's replacement.
He traveled to Atlanta on Tuesday to meet with both Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong and Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, according to sources. Emery will also sit down with New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr., according to a report Wednesday evening by Pro Football Talk.
Carmichael is an original member of Sean Payton's staff in New Orleans, where he served as quarterbacks coach (2006), quarterbacks/passing game coach (2007-08) and offensive coordinator (2009-present). The explosive Saints offense, led by quarterback Drew Brees, has propelled New Orleans to four playoff appearances and one Super Bowl victory since 2006. Although Payton is the mastermind behind the New Orleans offense, Carmichael did step in and call plays this year with Payton suspended the entire season due to the bounty scandal. The Saints missed the playoffs, but the team ranked No. 2 in total offense (410.9 yards per game) and No. 1 in passing offense (307.9) with Carmichael at the helm.
Emery is also scheduled to interview Dallas Cowboys special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis on Saturday morning in Dallas and Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy sometime later this weekend in Denver, according to sources. The Bears received permission to speak with Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements, but that interview cannot take place until after the Packers participate in wild-card weekend.
Emery also told the Chicago media on Tuesday that his search could extend to college coaches. A longtime college area scout and former college scouting director for the Atlanta Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs, Emery is extremely plugged in to the college coaching scene.ESPNChicago.com's Michael C. Wright contributed to this report.