Turnovers were a problem for the Chicago Bears in the regular season, but turnover on John Fox’s coaching staff in the offseason is now taking center stage.
Wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson was the latest to make the move out of Halas Hall, with the timing of his departure being odd considering the work he put in with the rest of the Bears coaches at last week’s Senior Bowl. Adding to the intrigue is a report from Chris Emma of CBS Chicago that names Johnson as the third assistant to leave the Bears voluntarily.
Like running back coach Stan Drayton (who left to take the same position at the University of Texas) before him, Johnson left the Bears and took the same job in another organization – joining Sean Payton’s staff on the New Orleans Saints as wide receivers coach. Johnson was on Payton’s first staff, then served as the head football coach at Tulane for four years before joining the Bears in 2016.
He was a coach who earned high praise from Fox, who said at last year’s combine: “He’s an outstanding grass coach. He’s a guy I’m very familiar with because of time competing against New Orleans when I was at Carolina in the NFC South. I think he’s one of the better receiver coaches out there.”
And this is what Fox said about Johnson last week:
This was John Fox on now-departed WR coach Curtis Johnson just four days ago: pic.twitter.com/VlWRvtLDg3
— Dan Wiederer (@danwiederer) January 31, 2017
Although we can only speculate, it’s worth pointing out that there is a common thread among three of the now-departed coaches: Drayton, Johnson, and former outside linebackers coach Clint Hurtt all left for jobs with head coaches with longer contracts than the one Fox has with the Bears.
Drayton joined new Texas head coach Tom Herman, whose contract runs through the 2020 season. Johnson re-unites with Payton, who signed a five-year extension with the Saints in March 2016. Hurtt left the Bears for the Seattle Seahawks, who have Pete Carroll under contract through the 2019 season.
When the 2017 season kicks off, Fox will be in year three of a four-year contract he signed with the Bears after leaving the Denver Broncos.
Throw in the rough start to the Fox era in the record column, and it’s possible that coaches would prefer a little more long-term job security.