When we were at the halfway point of this season, many people expected the Houston Texans and Chicago Bears to make serious noise in their respective conferences as the No. 1 seeds in the playoffs. The Texans fell off hard and dropped to the No. 3 seed but the Bears falls was much more severe, as the once 7-1 Bears finished the season 10-6 and on the outside of the playoff picture.
Head coach Lovie Smith has paid the ultimate price for that collapse. The Bears have fired Smith after nine seasons in Chicago.
General manager Phil Emery said before the season that missing the playoffs was unacceptable and implied that serious consequences would ensue if that scenario played out. Seeing as that’s exactly what happened in Chicago, the expectation is that Emery will make good on his promise that only winners are allowed in Chicago.
Emery tried to calm the storm on Sunday, stating on WBBM Radio in Chicago that he thought Smith did a fine job this season, and his tone didn’t at all suggest he had firing Smith on his mind.
“It is the full season and the whole body of work,” Emery said to WBBM via the Chicago Tribune.
The Bears have a lot on their minds this offseason, as likely one of the biggest decisions ahead of them revolves around whether or not they will bring back now free agent linebacker Brian Urlacher. The Bears and Urlacher didn’t talk contract during the season, but Urlacher cryptically stated at training camp he doesn’t think he’ll be back.
There is also the matter of what to do with offensive coordinator Mike Tice. While the defense of the Bears held it’s own all season long, the offense was an achilles heel of sorts, and Jay Cutler won’t be taking any bullets for his coaches in Chicago. This likely means Tice could ultimately follow Smith out the door in Chicago.
But what the firing of Smith means is this: we are about to have a brand new era in Chicago that may not feature Brian Urlacher, but could lure in current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden.