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Friday, September 24

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Bears Fri Nov 23 2012

Playoffs or Bust: Bears Coaches on the Hot Seat?

Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngFollowing two consecutive losses where the Bears offense was handily beaten, and the normally stout defense was gashed by impressive running attacks, Lovie Smith and the rest of the coaching staff had just five days to get the ship righted. A loss to the Vikings on Sunday would drop the Bears to third in the division, just three short weeks after being in the running for the best record in the NFC.

Missing the playoffs, especially after a 7-1 start, more than likely won't be tolerated. When Bears GM Phil Emery was hired in January, it included one stipulation: that Smith remains the head coach for the 2012 season. After that, it's all up to Emery. If the Bears fail to reach the postseason, it'll mean just one appearance (2010) since the team went to the Super Bowl in the 2006 season. I doubt Emery would offer Smith a new contract in that scenario.

Rumors have been floated about in each direction. Terry Boers, afternoon host on 670 The Score, had sources in early October saying the team was quietly working on a two-year extension with Smith. But the drafting of Shea McClellin in April, who was considered a hybrid 3-4 outside linebacker or 4-3 defensive end (with more considering him the former), was seen as a sign Emery wanted to move to the 3-4 defense in the near future. That future wouldn't include Smith and his trademark Cover-2 scheme.

If the Bears offense doesn't improve, you can bet that offensive coordinator Mike Tice won't retain his position. Despite the Bears being horrible up front (not Tice's fault), the schemes, game plan, and overall performance of an offense that many thought would be potent after the additions of Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Michael Bush has been lacking. Especially in the 49ers game, where Justin Smith and Aldon Smith ran roughshod over the offensive line, with little help from the tight ends or running backs.

The performance was finally bad enough for the Bears to make changes. Gabe Carimi is being replaced by journeyman Jonathon Scott at right tackle, and Chilo Rachal will sit in favor of the previously demoted Chris Spencer. Rachal didn't take the news well, reportedly leaving the practice facility after learning the news. The changes are needed, if only to let the rest of the team know they're accountable for their performance. It's also a sign the coaches are feeling the heat from above.

Jay Cutler's presence this Sunday would certainly better the chances of success - but the team is uncertain if he'll play. He did speak to the media on Wednesday, which is typically the availability of the starting quarterback for this coaching regime. With the Vikings coming to town, it's not surprising the Bears are staying especially coy about his status after the Brett Favre incident in 2010. The Bears already got revenge with the Julius Pepper's doubtful status last season, but they'll take every payback opportunity they can get.

A win on Sunday puts the Bears back on track, just two wins away from a likely playoff spot. A loss wouldn't be devastating, but it would it would waste another home game, and force wins in three of the final five games, including a trip to Minnesota in just two weeks. With everyone's job on the line, I'd bet on a rebound performance from the Monsters of the Midway.

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