Black and Blue all over: Smith to return

On Monday, we referenced a Chicago news conference with an undefined purpose. According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, the Bears will announce that coach Lovie Smith will return for a seventh season.

There is no surprise in that move, not considering the $11 million the Bears would owe Smith if they fired him. A two-game winning streak to end the season probably gave the Bears the excuse they needed to retain him. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner and other staff members might not be so lucky.

As we discussed Monday, my question is how the Bears arrived at the decision. Who made the final call, and thus, who is running the organization? Was it a member of the McCaskey family? Team president Ted Phillips? General manager Jerry Angelo? After a third consecutive year out of the playoffs, I think it’s important for fans to know who ultimately is directing the franchise.

The news conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on ChicagoBears.com.

Continuing around the NFC North:

  • Could former Buffalo interim coach Perry Fewell be a candidate to join the Bears’ staff? It would make sense, writes Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago.

  • Green Bay’s Sunday playoff spot will allow it to remain in a regular game-week routine, notes Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

  • The Packers are the first team in NFL history to have a 4,000-yard quarterback, a 1,200-yard running back and a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in two consecutive seasons. Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel passes along those numbers via Elias Sports Bureau.

  • Packers coach Mike McCarthy wasn’t too worried about seeing decoy schemes Sunday in Arizona, writes Jason Wilde of ESPN Milwaukee.

  • Minnesota defensive tackle Pat Williams guaranteed the Vikings will win their first playoff game, according to Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Williams isn’t usually shy about saying anything in public.

  • Vikings players were thrilled to get five days off this week, writes Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.

  • Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News: “If mistakes and losses are learning tools, the Lions will be brilliant one of these years. Just don't count on it anytime soon.”

  • Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press believes the Lions should focus on strengthening their offense this winter: “They should identify the area that is closest to being competitive and upgrade it. That way, they will at least do something well. They can rejoin the NFL. And then they can try to go from there to genuine contention.”