Smith, who interviewed for coaching positions in San Diego, Philadelphia and Buffalo before deciding to take the season off, told ESPN's "NFL Live" Thursday that last season became difficult after a 7-1 start, the Chicago Tribune reported Friday.
"It was tough," Smith said. "But that is the NFL. You are disappointed. You mention 7-1, but it's hard to win in the NFL. For us to finish 3-5 and finish up with a 10-6, it's hard. But my nine years in Chicago were great. Met a lot of great people. My family loved it. It was just time for them to go in a different direction. I'm going to do the same."
Smith said the Bears would miss "so much" from linebacker Brian Urlacher after the team decided not to sign him for another season.
"You look at every organization, every football team, there's a face of the franchise. And there can't be a better player to represent an organization than [the way] Brian Urlacher has," he said. "On the field, my nine years there, he was our linebacker, of course, he did so much. Coach on the field. Great guy. So it will be different not seeing No. 54 there. But with time, things change, and this is a different year."