Missing the playoffs four of the past five years has understandably put Bears head coach Lovie Smith on whatever kind of job hot seat the NFL has. Jerry Angelo took the fall for some of the missteps of the post-Super Bowl XLI issues but a new general manager and new chairman are not wedded to Smith.
And if two remaining contract years worth 11 million were reason to give Smith the 2012 season, one year wont be after this.
But Smith is far from the only NFC North coach around whom a serious degree of pressure is building.
The Green Bay Packers won a Super Bowl in 2010 but were a first-game playoff elimination last season. Mike McCarthy has a team that is established as Super Bowl-worthy and another stumble in 2012 will likely start questions about McCarthys stewardship.
Leslie Frazier took over a disaster in Minnesota but has now been given a starting quarterback, starting left tackle and help in the secondary in the past two draft first rounds. GM Rick Spielman may not be willing to consider trading unhappy wide receiver Percy Harvin but he will assuredly be considering options if the Vikings put up another 3-13 season.
But the most intriguing situation is over in Detroit. Jim Schwartz ostensibly has reversed the abysmal slide of the Lions. But he also has a roster with a No.1-overall pick at quarterback and two No. 2-overalls (Ndamukong Suh, Calvin Johnson) to go with a franchise-tagged defensive end (Cliff Avril).
The Lions likely do not qualify for the playoffs last season without Jay Cutler fracturing his thumb. And GM Martin Mayhew told Anwar Richardson over at Mlive.com that the Lions expect to win a Super Bowl eventually.
Mayhew says he is a believer in continuity, speaking of players, coaches and organization, but the Lions have not won a playoff game since Mayhew came in 2009 and anything less than at least a playoff win this season can be considered nothing less than a huge step backwards with a team virtually in its prime.
The Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls could see the mountain top with Doug Collins as head coach. But when they couldnt get to that level, a change was made to Phil Jackson from a pretty successful coach.
If Schwartz cannot end the enabling of character discipline issues that have made the Lions an object of ridicule, he may be called to accountability for underachieving talent sooner rather than later.