Which coach or general manager is facing a potentially pivotal season that could decide his future? Our division reporters give their picks for who is on the hottest seat in the NFC North:
Courtney Cronin, Vikings reporter: Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. He may have survived the recent coaching change, but that doesn't mean Cooter is going to be around indefinitely. The Lions haven't had a 100-yard rusher in four years and the offensive line around quarterback Matthew Stafford has been injury-ridden and dismal in recent seasons. The good news? General manager Bob Quinn focused his efforts on shoring up the OL by using a first-round pick on Frank Ragnow, who did not allow a sack in college, and adding offensive line coach Jeff Davidson to install a new run-blocking scheme. On that front, the Lions also signed LeGarrette Blount in free agency and traded up into the second round to land Kerryon Johnson. The pieces appear to be in place for Cooter to make wholesale changes to a run game that finished 32nd last season (76.3 YPG). But if Detroit's run game still can't get it together, Cooter might not be around much longer.
Rob Demovsky, Packers reporter: Packers coach Mike McCarthy. There's been so much change around the Packers coach that if things don't go well, what would be the next shoe to drop? For the first time in his 13 seasons as head coach, McCarthy's boss isn't Ted Thompson, the person who hired him in 2006. Thompson was pushed aside and replaced by new GM Brian Gutekunst. But McCarthy doesn't report to the GM anymore. Instead, it's team president Mark Murphy who makes the call on the coach. What's more, McCarthy received only a one-year contract extension late last season, meaning he has only one more season on his deal after this season. McCarthy revamped his coaching staff, led by new coordinators Mike Pettine (defense) and Joe Philbin (offense).
Jeff Dickerson, Bears reporter: McCarthy. I hate for that to be the case because McCarthy has been tremendous in Green Bay, but Chicago and Detroit both have new head coaches. Matt Nagy and Matt Patricia should be safe for a couple of years. Chicago general manager Ryan Pace even got an extension in the offseason, despite the Bears being 14-34 under his watch. In Minnesota, Mike Zimmer is coming off a trip to the NFC Championship Game. That leaves McCarthy, who went 7-9 without Aaron Rodgers for much of last season. It's been seven seasons since McCarthy and the Packers won a Super Bowl. The fan base probably expects at least one more title before Rodgers calls it quits.
Michael Rothstein, Lions reporter: Bears GM Ryan Pace. Almost went with McCarthy here -- his contract only goes through the end of the 2019 season -- but Pace's teams in Chicago have been downright poor. Over three years, the Bears are 14-34, and he's already on his second head coach. There's reason to think Chicago will be patient enough with him as long as Nagy and the Bears show progress this year. If things continue to stagnate, Pace's job should be in jeopardy considering he would have been under .500 every season the past four years at that point. In a major market like Chicago with a legacy team like the Bears, that would seem unacceptable.