With the Bears fading — they could miss the playoffs even if they win their final two games — it might be only a couple weeks before Phil Emery makes his biggest decision yet as general manager.
If the Bears’ season ends in Week 17, they will become the first team since 1996 to start the season 7-1 and fail to advance to the postseason. A collapse of that magnitude would put just about any head coach on notice, and for Lovie Smith, who has led the Bears to one playoff win since the start of the 2007 season, it very well could cost him his job.
It has seemed like a near certainty that Smith would be returning to the Bears in 2013 for most of this season. In fact, there was talk around midseason that the Bears had opened contract-extension talks with Smith, but that was when they were leading the division and appeared to be headed back to the playoffs.
Emery had to agree to work with Smith for a season before the Bears hired the GM, but the handcuffs are about to be removed and it won’t be much longer until Emery makes a major statement about his vision for the organization.