New year, new Chicago Bears head coach.
The Bears fired John Fox today, following the team’s season-ending loss yesterday to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Fox, who signed a four-year deal with the team in 2015, has been on the hot seat since the summer (or earlier, in many eyes), and his parting ways with the Bears has been expected for some time now.
It’s a disappointing end for Fox, who arrived with the reputation for being a turnaround artist in the NFL. Instead, the Bears have finished in the NFC North cellar in each of the last three years and have suffered double-digit losses in each of those seasons.
Fox has been criticized for the Bears’ struggles on the offensive side of the ball. Chicago ranked 23rd in points in Fox’s first season, but fell to 28th in 2016 and entered Week 17 of this season ranked 29th. Hiring Adam Gase as offensive coordinator looked to be a shrewd move, but Dowell Loggains has whiffed in replacing Gase after he left to become the Miami Dolphins head coach.
Fox also struggled to beat the NFC North, posting a 3-15 record against division rivals with identical 1-5 records against the Packers, Vikings, and Lions. That won’t play.
The defense held its end of the bargain for the most part over the last three years, improving in each season under Fox and the watchful eye of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Hired away from the San Francisco 49ers after the team dismissed Jim Harbaugh, Fangio re-shaped a mess left behind by his predecessor Mel Tucker. Whoever takes over the defensive side of the ball will have some building blocks to work with in 2018, and that’s before the front office dips into its flexible salary cap situation and draft capital. The Bears’ defense ranked eighth in yards and 10th in points entering Week 17.
Alas, it was the lack of creativity and having virtually no vertical passing attack to speak of in the last two seasons that, probably more than any other single thing, led to this staff’s demise.
Fox finishes his tenure in Chicago with a 14-34 record, and his departure now makes way for a fresh start with what will most likely be an offensive-minded head coach who will be responsible for molding Mitch Trubisky into a true franchise quarterback.
The search for the coach of the future to lead the quarterback of the future begins in earnest today. We’re so ready for change, and surely, so is GM Ryan Pace, who now gets to hire a coach without the hovering influence of a family-hired consultant or any other type of football outsider.