Stoic head-coach Lovie Smith made it to the title game and lost.
But the effort was enough to earn him a contract extension. Now fans will have to see if he still has the fire to take the team back to the Super Bowl.
After taking the team to the Super Bowl in 2006 -- and facing Tony Dungy as the first black head coaches in the championship game -- Smith’s success quotient has trended straight down. The Big Sandy, Texas native has managed to find the middle with a team full of injured veterans and underdeveloped youngsters.
For the 2010 season, the one-time Defensive Coordinator for the St. Louis Rams reunited with his pal Mike Martz, surrounded himself with veteran coaches and got a few expensive free-agents to steel himself against the firing squad at the end of the season.
Lovie will have to prove he’s got what it takes to compete in an NFC North Division that appears to have outpaced him.