The expectation is that the Bears will act quickly on Lovie Smith's future.
First, there's timing.
Nearly a dozen NFL head coaches are perceived to be on the hot seat, which means teams will move quickly to fire and hire. Maybe not Monday but within a few days of the season ending. Move slowly, and a club falls behind the pack making a change.
Second, there's history.
Last year, after an 8-8 season, the Bears relieved longtime general manager Jerry Angelo of his duties two days after the season ended with a 17-13 victory in Minneapolis over the Minnesota Vikings. On that day, Bears president Ted Phillips confirmed that Smith would be retained and that the club parted ways with offensive coordinator Mike Martz because of "philosophical differences."
The 8-8 finish was a disappointment after a 7-3 start.
Smith is 81-63 as Bears coach. But his team struggled again down the stretch this season, becoming just the second team since 1990 to miss the playoffs after starting 7-1.
The Bears finished 10-6 with a 26-24 victory in Detroit Sunday.
Last season, as they searched for a replacement for Angelo, the Bears brass interviewed candidates and made it clear that Smith would remain as the head coach in 2012. After that, though, the GM would have the autonomy to make a change.
Now the question is whether Emery ends the Smith tenure or extends it at least another season.