CHICAGO -- The NFL Network is reporting that Chicago Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith has been fired after missing the playoffs for the fifth time in six years. They went 10-6 overall, but were eliminated from playoff contention when the Minnesota Vikings beat the Green Bay Packers Sunday. The Bears are only the fourth team in NFL history to start 7-1 and miss the playoffs.
Smith led the Bears to the Super Bowl in 2006, losing to the Indianapolis Colts, and went 81-63 overall. However, his reign was marred by an inability to beat NFC North Division rival Green Bay, who had won six straight against the Bears and had won the Super Bowl during Smith's tenure. Smith's teams also struggled offensively, even during the year they went to the Super Bowl.
Speculation will now turn to who might replace Smith. Oregon University Head Coach Chip Kelly has been mentioned as a possibility for many NFL teams now looking for head coaches. Former Pittsburgh Steeler Head Coach Bill Cowher has been linked to the Bears, but it is unknown if he would be interested leaving broadcasting to return to the head coaching ranks. The same could be said for former Tampa Bay and Oakland Head Coach Jon Gruden, who currently works as a color commentator for ESPN. If Gruden does return to head coaching, however, sources indicate he would seek Philadelphia's open head coaching position.
Former Denver Head Coach and current New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has also been linked to the Chicago head coaching vacancy.
One intriguing outside possibility is Indianapolis Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians, who led the Colts to the playoffs while filling in for ailing Head Coach Chuck Pagano.