Five weeks ago, the idea that Lovie Smith was in danger of losing his job would have sounded absurd. The Bears were 7-1, coming off a 51-20 blowout win in Tennessee, and widely regarded as one of the best teams in the NFL.
But with the Bears having lost four of five games since then, and with a tough game coming up on Sunday against the Packers, there’s talk in Chicago that Smith is on the hot seat.
Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times has a column in today’s paper suggesting that Smith’s days are numbered, while Tom Waddle, a former Bears receiver who is now a sports radio host in Chicago, said this morning on NFL Network that Smith may need not just to get to the playoffs but to win a playoff game in order to save his job.
“I think he’s on the hot seat now,” Waddle said. “It’s a bottom line business, and as of right now they’ve missed the postseason four of the last five years. If they make it five out of six, they’ve got a new general manager in place who has the autonomy to make the decision on the coaching position. I think in fact if they don’t get to the postseason, it’s very likely you will see a coaching change. And if they limp to the postseason and one and done, I still think it’s a possibility that Phil Emery, the new G.M., will make a change.”
Frustrations are clearly mounting in Chicago: I live in Chicago, and if the Bears fans I talked to at my wife’s office holiday party last night are a representative sample, then the Bears’ paying customers overwhelmingly want Smith out. The good news for Smith is that the Bears likely only have to win two of their last three to make the playoffs, and after the Packers they get the Cardinals and Lions. So Smith is likely to take the Bears to the postseason, and to keep his job. Barely.