Lovie Smith lost his job after the 2012 season despite having ten wins, due to a lack of making the playoffs. Even before his replacement, Marc Trestman, was hired, fans were already making the statement that any less than ten wins in 2013 would be a failure.
Any season that doesn't end in our favorite team holding the Lombardi Trophy is pretty much a failure, but I don't follow the logic that because a coach with ten wins in a season was fired, the next coach better make at least eleven or it was a horrible move.
I don't think that's the case in 2013. Ideally, yes, when you make a coaching move you make it to improve the team immediately, but this isn't like most coach-firing situations. This fits more under the "philosophical differences" type of firing as well as desired results - Lovie was fired because of lack of playoffs over multiple seasons, not just because he didn't get to eleven wins in 2012.
The Bears absolutely can contend in 2013. The question becomes "Will they?"
There's a case that they won't. You're dealing with a first-time NFL head coach in Trestman, with a new system and a playbook that must be the size of Herman Melville's Moby Dick because it's still not done (reportedly, anyway). The longtime face of the franchise, Brian Urlacher, is gone. Mel Tucker's defenses in Jacksonville weren't really the strongest around. And Phil Emery hasn't hit every pick and signing, though it's a little early to judge him as a complete executive.
There's also the case that they will. Mike Tice struggled as a first-year offensive coordinator and the team still made ten wins last season. Even without Urlacher, the Bears are still returning most of their defensive stars. With rest and fewer plays, maybe Mel Tucker's defense doesn't look as bad. The Bears signed a tackle and replaced Kellen Davis. Marc Trestman is an offensive guru who's won championships in Canada.
Personally, I'm not judging this season on wins and losses, because while I think this team can make the playoffs, I think it could take an adjustment period as Emery and Trestman continue to build the roster both the remainder of this year and beyond. Keep in mind the team just hired Emery last offseason and Trestman this offseason, and the team is transitioning from heavily investing in defense to reloading the offensive side of the ball and making it the focus of the team. Not to mention that Trestman hasn't even been the head coach for one single NFL game yet.
Instead, I'm looking for progress and sustainability. The goal isn't necessarily a single championship in the immediate coming season - it's multiple championships and creating a team and franchise capable of contending for those multiple championships. Maybe being a Cubs fan makes me more patient than some, I don't know, but if the Bears don't get ten wins in 2013, I won't be terribly upset about it unless the onfield product just doesn't exist.
The ultimate measure of Trestman's hiring will be multiple playoff berths and possible championships over his tenure. Ten wins in 2013 won't nudge the needle either direction.