BBAO: Extend Lovie Smith's contract?

We're Black and Blue All Over:

The firing of Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress this week has overshadowed a much more positive trend among NFC North coaches: Two of them are candidates for NFL coach of the year.

The Chicago Bears' Lovie Smith has helped resurrect his team from what appeared to be lame-duck status this season. The Green Bay Packers' Mike McCarthy, meanwhile, has navigated his team through an injury-ravaged first half to emerge as one of the league's top teams.

Smith was on the proverbial hot seat when the season began, and many of us in the media were busy trying to figure out the buyout on his contract. Now he has his team on a playoff run and will be entering the final year of his contract in 2011. So instead of firing Smith, should the Bears be working on a contract extension?

Not yet, writes David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.

Haugh: "It looks encouraging enough heading into Sunday's showdown against the [Philadelphia] Eagles for general manager Jerry Angelo to issue an unsolicited vote of confidence for Smith last week. But if the Bears miss the playoffs for the fourth straight year despite a surprising start, can a franchise justify bringing back a coach who would have qualified for the postseason in only two of seven seasons?"

In other words, there is no rush.

Continuing around the NFC North: