Ted Phillips: Playoffs remain goal

Updated: September 7, 2010, 10:42 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

If Ted Phillips has a checklist of accomplishments for Lovie Smith to meet to keep his job past this season, the Chicago Bears president isn't saying.

But making the playoffs sure wouldn't hurt Smith's chances.

After a third straight season missing out on the postseason in the wake of their Super Bowl appearance at the end of the 2006 season, the Bears retained Smith and instead shook up their assistant coaching staff, adding Mike Martz to run the offense and shifting Rod Marinelli to defensive coordinator.

"At the end of last year -- it was a disappointing year -- I think I made the comment that status quo is not acceptable," Phillips said Tuesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "Everyone believes in that. What does that mean? I can't put a number of wins on it. Obviously, the goal every year is to get to the playoffs to give us a chance to get to the Super Bowl. That remains the goal.

"At the end of the year we'll take a look at everything. What I want to see is that we're headed in the right direction. There's obviously a lot of factors that go into that."

The play of quarterback Jay Cutler will play a major role in the Bears' fortunes this season. After being acquired in a trade with the Denver Broncos in April 2009, Cutler struggled in his first season in Chicago, tossing an NFL-high 26 interceptions.

"He came in last season in a tough situation; expectations were through the roof," Phillips said. "It was a tough year for Jay, but everything you hear now with Mike Martz and Jay Cutler, that's real. They're on the same page. I think Mike Martz's system will only be a positive for Jay, and I look for him to come out of the gates strong and have a much better year than he had last year."

Aside from changes on the coaching staff, the Bears also spent big money in free agency, landing defensive end Julius Peppers and running back Chester Taylor. But after an 0-4 preseason, the Bears have plenty of questions heading into their regular season opener against the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

"From my standpoint you'd like to win a couple [preseason] games because it's just the mindset of winning for the players I think is important," Phillips said. "But overall I'm glad it's over, and we're 0-0. The offseason isn't just the four preseason games, it's the offseason workouts, it's the minicamps, it's the practices at training camp that were important. There were a lot of positives there. They tried some new things in new systems that we have and we're going to all find out on Sunday whether they are on the right track or not."

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