It is never too early to start speculating about which teams are in need of a big season, and 2010 figures to be a big year for many NFL head coaches. The old saying in the NFL is that you accept a head-coaching job so that you can be fired again.
Hardly anyone is able to coach for 20 years in the same spot and retire into the sunset. The NFL does not remember what you did five years ago, and if you are not winning today, somebody else will have your job tomorrow.
Any coach can be out of a job with a bad finish. Look at former Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden. Each man won the first Super Bowl in their franchise's history, both had been to multiple playoff appearances and both had bad Decembers to close the 2008 season. Both were unemployed in 2009.
Here are 10 coaches that need to make sure their seasons end in playoff runs, because if they do not, they could be looking for new work. I listed them in order from the hottest seat down.
1) Lovie Smith (Chicago Bears)
I think the free agency spending frenzy on DE Julius Peppers, RB Chester Taylor and TE Brandon Manumaleuna shows that this team is committed to returning to the top of the NFC North. Smith was 29-19 in his first three seasons, won two NFC North titles and went to the Super Bowl in 2006. Since then, the Bears are 23-25 and have not made the playoffs. If the Bears finish out of the playoff race for the fourth consecutive year, expect a change in Chicago.
No one is under more pressure to succeed in 2010 than Smith is. The free agency spending spree committed over $100 million to new players and shows that the Bears organization expects a winner in 2010. Anything less than the playoffs will not be acceptable...