Lovie Smith’s Hot Seat

Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith may want to look into finding a real estate agent and put his home on the market if the Bears fail to make the playoffs this season, following a disappointing finish to the 2011 season that saw the Bears go 1-5 after injuries to quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte.

The failure to make it to the postseason after losing in the NFC championship game in 2010 spelled the end of the Jerry Angelo era in Chicago. The former general manager has since been replaced by Phil Emery, who has made a splash in the trade market (Brandon Marshall), free agency (Michael Bush), and the draft (Shea McClellin and Alshon Jeffery).

Emery will not hesitate to bring in a new coach if Lovie fails to make the playoffs this season after shoring up many of the deficiencies that crippled the 2011 version of the Bears. The axiom in sports is that GM’s like to bring in “their guy” and staying with an incumbent coach immediately raises eyebrows as to why the coach did not follow the GM out of town.

Had Angelo been retained, Lovie certainly would feel the heat because it is the National Football League and failing to make the playoffs in this town with expectations at a heightened level will have a coach question his long-term job security.

The 2005 Associated Press Coach of the Year has made it to the NFL’s second season just once since the Bears lost to the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI with a combined record of 42-38.

Lovie’s contract is through the 2013 season, so if the Bears struggle this season and Emery decides to fire the only coach besides Mike Ditka to take the team to a Super Bowl, they would be on the hook for his 2013 salary.

Fans like to speculate about the possibility of luring former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher out of the CBS studios and into the offices at Halas Hall. However, such a move would be next to impossible because Cowher would surely want personnel control and Emery would be giving away his job title to the man he is hiring.

In addition, the five million owed to Lovie in 2013 and a prohibitive salary to Cowher or someone of his ilk would mean the Bears are paying upwards 12-13 million dollars for a head coach.

Barring a catastrophic collapse similar to the 1969 Chicago Cubs, Lovie will retain his job and will be on the sidelines for the 2013 season and with the reinforcements Emery brought in during the off-season, perhaps with a shiny championship ring on his finger.

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Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports fan the host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com every Wednesday morning from 8-10.  View his show’s website here.