According to multiple reports the Bears have fired head coach Lovie Smith this morning.
The news broke at a little after 9:45 a.m. Chicago time and ends Smith's tenure after a tenuous nine-year stint with the Bears.
The Bears were eliminated from the playoffs yesterday when the Vikings beat the Packers. Despite their 10-6 record the Bears came up short in their bid for the postseason. In a year that many expected the Bears to easily make the playoffs, Smith's team failed to do so for the fifth time in the past six seasons.
Chicago becomes only the second team in NFL history to miss the playoffs after starting the season 7-1. Under Smith the Bears finished the season with a 2-6 record against teams that made the playoffs -- their only wins came in the opener against the Colts and their home victory against the Vikings.
Smith finishes his career in Chicago with the third most wins in franchise history behind George Halas and Mike Ditka. He went 80-63 in the regular season and was 3-3 in the postseason with one trip to the Super Bowl and one other NFC title game appearance, both losses.
Smith's departure likely means the end of the Brian Urlacher era as well. Urlacher stated last night he wants to stay with the Bears, but the chances of that happening now seem slim.
The question now becomes which direction do the Bears go to fill their head coaching position? This team is built around a 4-3 defense and at no point in the history of the franchise have the Bears played any thing but a 4-3. The best players on the defense fit well into the 4-3 defense. Corey Wootton, Henry Melton, Julius Peppers and Charles Tillman all fit the specifics of Smith's Cover-2.
Lots of decisions are on the horizon, and it should be a very exciting offseason to find out who is the next man to lead the Monsters of the Midway.
Brett Solesky is co-host of Bear Report Radio and publisher of MidwayIllustrated.com. He's a regular contributor to Bear Report magazine and BearReport.com.