And then there was one - following today only the RB group position remains on the Chicago Bears’ coaching staff. The Bears officially announced the hiring of Travis Smith as their new defensive line coach moments ago. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network was the first to scoop the news.
Previously, Travis Smith was the assistant defensive line coach for the past three seasons with the Las Vegas Raiders. He originally was hired as a defensive assistant / quality control coach by Dennis Allen in 2012 with the (then) Oakland Raiders. In all he’s entering his 10th season in the NFL as an assistant. This will be Travis Smith’s first season as a top positions coach.
He comes in as a well regarded coach and someone who was due for a promotion. Most notably, he has a great relationship with current Bears destroyer of worlds Khalil Mack. During the 2016 season Travis Smith spent a majority of his time working with position coach Jethro Franklin and the Raiders’ defensive line. That very season was when Khalil Mack won Defensive Player of the Year and made history as the only player to ever make the All-Pro roster at multiple positions.
Oh, the Raiders ran a 4-3 front during that time, for the tinfoil hat conspiracists that think Khalil Mack cannot play in a 4-3 front.
It wasn’t just Khalil Mack that excelled while working with Travis Smith despite multiple changes in staff and coaching philosophies. Bruce Irvin posted his best two seasons of his career between 2016 and 2017. Stalwart DT Johnathan Hankins returned to his familiar self after signing with the Raiders in 2018. Maxx Crosby has developed into an All-Pro defender and big money acquisition Yannick Ngakoue didn’t miss a beat.
What I personally find most impressive is the list of defensive gurus he’s studied under. Names like Dennis Allen; Jack Del Rio; Gus Bradley; and Rod Marinelli all highlight his educational influences. It’s certainly within the realm of possibility that former Bears DC Rod Marinelli recommended Travis Smith to his former colleague, Matt Eberflus. Any stamp of approval from him alone is good enough for me.
Let’s see what he can do with Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn as his pass rushing tandem in 2022...