By Dan Bernstein —
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) We’ve reached the point of the John Fox era at which an accomplishment as mundane as a completed pass is termed a “small victory” by the broadcasters paid to come up with something to say.
It was a ball thrown by the quarterback and caught by a wide receiver, yet it seemed unique enough to merit special attention from FOX analyst Charles Davis as a positive sign of development for the Bears on a Sunday that felt like a bottoming out of sorts, a 31-3 road loss to an Eagles team that was sloppy and careless, barely needing to feign interest against such manifest incompetence.
The Bears offense managed zero first downs in the first half, didn’t reach positive rushing yards until 58 minutes into the game, managed just 140 total yards and turned the ball over twice on Mitchell Trubisky interceptions. The total of six net yards from their vaunted running game was only five behind the worst-ever performance in franchise history, a 65-year-old record.
It would be easy to dismiss this as the mismatch we all knew it to be, but that would be a failure to appreciate the scope of the Bears’ continued missteps in all phases of play. Even as the chasm of quality between these teams was made abundantly clear from the outset, there’s still no excusing the apparent issues with concentration and execution that are independent of the obvious talent differential. It just shouldn’t look like that, regardless.
The Eagles were begging for a replacement-level opponent to knock them off on their home turf, committing 11 penalties for 70 yards and losing three of their four fumbles. It never mattered.
Now comes whatever reckoning that Bears management and ownership may choose, with no seeming downside from moving on from Fox right now. We knew his tenure here was essentially ended by the loss to the Packers, and this would seem an opportune time to let defensive coordinator Vic Fangio have the reins while the schedule softens and give him a chance to both show if he can keep players listening and see how he feels the top position may suit him. Neither side must commit to anything, yet, and there’s no risk.
And if the Bears want to audition a new play-caller in lieu of Dowell Loggains, I can’t imagine there would be any objection.
Fox claimed after the game that he doesn’t “give a rip” about such speculation regarding his job and that his team “has five games remaining, and that will define our season.”
His season is already too well defined by injuries, losses and not enough development, and while it’s unlikely that sweeping change will be enacted to make those last five games matter more, it makes increasing sense with every day and every negative outcome.
There are no small victories, and there are too many losses that shake any remaining faith that this will end well.
For now, though, it all seems to be fine with general manager Ryan Pace and the people writing the checks.