By Chris Emma–

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — It wasn’t exactly a ringing vote of confidence, but Bears coach John Fox indicated Thursday that offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and the rest of his coaching staff will return in 2017.

Fox was asked whether he expected Loggains back after this, his first season as the Bears’ offensive coordinator. In return, Fox spoke to the prospects of Loggains leaving to go elsewhere rather than being dismissed.

“Yeah,” Fox said in response. “I think as I mentioned before, when you guys were asking me about reports and whatnot, a lot of things change. Players will change, coaches change. It’s not like I’m going to make changes. It’s just the nature of the beast. I don’t know if there will be a long line at 3-12 right for coaching opportunities, but stranger things have happened.”

Differences aside, John Fox knows Vic Fangio’s impact on the Bears

Loggains has come under fire for an offense that ranks 13th in yards and 28th in points scored. Bears running back Jordan Howard, who has rushed for 1,178 yards, is 61 yards shy of Matt Forte’s rookie rushing record set back in 2008. He’s closing in on that milestone after just 12 starts.

Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, the NFL’s leading rusher, shares the same 5.1-yards-per-carry average as Howard but has 93 more carries for 453 more yards. How Loggains has used Howard — who has only eclipsed the 18-carry mark once in the past seven games — is one of the greatest criticisms to his first year as the Bears’ play-caller.

“No one — even (the media) — second-guesses themselves as much as I do,” Loggains said.

As Fox pointed out, Loggains is working with his fourth-string quarterback in Matt Barkley. The offense has dealt with many injuries that have forced players like Howard to step up.

“You got 11 guys out there at once,” Fox said. “The continuity and consistency helps when there is continuity and consistency. And that’s not been the case. It’s a credit to the coaching staff, Dowell in particular.”

The Bears’ defensive coordinator position could bring change, too, with the reported philosophical differences between Fox and Vic Fangio. On Wednesday, Fangio again stated that he expects to be back with the Bears beyond this season. Fox also suggested that three weeks ago when 670 The Score’s Mike Mulligan first reported the rift in the Chicago Tribune.

Fangio has his unit ranked 12th in total defense, marked improvement for a second straight season in that category.

“Vic does a tremendous job,” Fox said of Fangio. “Concept-wise, he does a good job. I think he teaches it to a variety of different levels of experienced players.”

With the Bears (3-12) preparing for their season finale against the Vikings (7-8) on Sunday in Minneapolis, it wasn’t expected for Fox to make firm declarations to his coaching staff, especially when presented with closed-ended questions. Fox’s place as the Bears’ head coach hasn’t been presented as safe.

Fox and general manager Ryan Pace are scheduled to speak next Wednesday and address the franchise’s football future.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

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