Another late-season swoon for the Chicago Bears might mark the end for longtime coach Lovie Smith.
NFL Network's Michael Lombardi said Sunday on "NFL GameDay Morning" that sources around the NFL believe whether or not the Bears (9-6) make the playoffs, Smith "could be in jeopardy."
"Let's assume he doesn't make the playoffs, then I think he would be gone," Lombardi said. "What people are targeting is that he has a very good staff there in Chicago, which means a lot of those coaches would be available.
"If he does make the playoffs, then I would expect him to have to have a playoff run," Lombardi added. "His contract expires (after) 2013, so the Bears are going to have to make a decision (about an extension). Phil Emery, the GM (must ask) do we extend him, or do we rebuild the football team? And I think we won't know that until after the games today."
This comes down to Emery's evaluation of Smith. NFL.com's Albert Breer told Around the League that GM candidates were told last year by the Bears that Smith had to be retained for 2012 but could be replaced for 2013 and beyond.
The Bears' grasp on a playoff berth is tenuous. They must beat the Detroit Lions on Sunday and hope the Minnesota Vikings lose to the Green Bay Packers. Regardless, this coaching staff is fighting for more than the playoffs Sunday.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.