The Chicago Bears have posted three 11-plus-win seasons and one Super Bowl appearance under coach Lovie Smith. They've also struggled to find an offensive identity throughout his nine-year stint and could miss the playoffs this season after a 7-1 start.
Some believe Smith should lose his job if the Bears are left out of the postseason. They need a win Sunday in Detroit and the Green Bay Packers to beat or tie the Minnesota Vikings. If the Bears tie the Lions, the Vikings have to lose. Chicago would be out with a loss.
"No, I don't think Coach Smith is in the hot seat, but at the same time, we as players feel like he is going to be around this franchise, this organization," Bears cornerback Charles Tillman said on NFL Network's "NFL AM" on Friday. "I don't think it's something, his job, the hot seat, he doesn't really get caught up in all that, neither do we as players. At the same time, you do want to win for your coach."
The Bears were a juggernaut early as Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall were nearly unstoppable. The defense was playing as well as any unit in the league. Then Chicago lost five of the last seven games.
Tillman was asked why Smith deserves to come back.
"Because he is a great coach," Tillman said. "He's been here nine years, I believe, the only coach I really know. I don't want to play for another coach. I think he's done some great things for this city, for this organization. Great guy, great leader.
"(If) you got to bring in a new coach, they got to start all the way over, they got to rebuild the team. Naw, you don't want to do that. Coach Smith is the guy."
The collapse in Chicago has been monumental, but the Bears are close to making the playoffs for the second time in three years. This isn't a Philadelphia situation where things completely imploded. Smith probably deserves at least one more year with Cutler, Marshall and Matt Forte. Plus, Smith took the Bears to the Super Bowl with Rex Grossman at quarterback. That alone should buy a little goodwill.
Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.