Every year, we spend part of the offseason trying to figure out which coaches will survive the coming season. This week, Will Brinson of CBS Sports compiled the ten coaches on the Hottest of Hot Seats, with the Chicago Bears' Lovie Smith at No. 7.
Is Smith on the hot seat?
Here's what Brinson had to say.
7. Lovie Smith, Bears
2011 was so odd for Smith: He could've avoided a spot here if Jay Cutler hadn't been injured or even if Chicago had a capable backup. Of course, if they had a capable backup, Phil Emery wouldn't be the new GM in town. And a new GM in town can always mean trouble for a head coach. It was a little surprising to see Chicago retain Lovie, and it's going to be tough for him in 2012 with the NFC North theoretically only becoming stronger. The Bears have plenty of expectations as well, and went out and landed Brandon Marshall this offseason to reunite with Cutler, as well as picking up Jason Campbell to serve as the aforementioned capable backup. Serious defensive regression, injury or aging could spell doom for Smith, especially if the Bears don't challenge for the division title.
You can find the whole piece here.
Brinson's logic is pretty sound as far as I'm concerned. A new GM and the massive injuries from 2011—something coaches cannot help for the most part—will probably buy him at least another year beyond 2012.
He should still be looking over his shoulder, though.
While the Bears have contended often since he took over as coach, they have more than once fell short—sometimes far short—of their goal of the Super Bowl.
The holes which trip up the team are all things which could be pawned off on departed staff.
Former GM Jerry Angelo appears to have missed the mark on every offensive line prospect he drafted and left the cupboard bare of decent quarterbacks to back-up Cutler, who finally fell victim to former offensive coordinator Mike Martz's somewhat insane blocking and offensive schemes.
Still, Smith is the main man here. He could have pushed for more offensive line help; he could have reigned in Martz. That's his job; point of fact.
That he didn't is a problem.
Has Lovie Smith been a good head coach?
Will that change with Emery in the GM seat (so far his drafting is better than Angelo's) and Mike Tice as offensive coordinator?
The funny thing for me when it comes to Smith is that, when we've talked about the Bears in the past, we've often talked about Martz and his scheme or how Angelo handles players.
It always seems like Smith flies a bit under the radar.
With those guys gone, there should be no impediment to his ability to imprint this team as he wants. So we will find out what Lovie Smith is all about beyond a solid defense.
Often, when a general manager is fired, the coach isn't far behind. That Smith remains after both Angelo and Martz have departed tells me the team believes he was not the issue here.
Or at least not the biggest one.
However, if the team underperforms in a very tough division, losing early in or missing the playoffs altogether, Smith will most certainly find his seat red hot.
If it hasn't already become engulfed in flame.