By Dan Bernstein
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) Bears coach John Fox has a habit of globalizing concerns, trying to spread them out to make them seem less newsworthy. It’s his signature bit of dismissiveness every time he’s trotted out to pretend to answer questions about anything.
He applies the words “always,” “any,” “all” and “every” no matter the issue at hand, trying to project an air of preoccupied weariness, bothered that he’s even being asked about something so obviously routine – the ruddy face and scratchy voice of the franchise, prone to generic complaints about how hard it is to win.
We remember his strange response to an innocuous query in August about the problem of injuries affecting preparedness.
“It’s all a problem,” Fox said.
And at the moment, he’s correct.
This past week saw the continued revelation of some alarming moments at Halas Hall involving former tackle Jeremiah Ratliff and the numerous missteps by both the Bears and the Lake Forest Police Department in providing proper information to keep people as safe as possible. It ended with a deflating 23-20 loss at home to the Vikings that Fox’s team all but gave away.
Fox spent Friday making a fool of himself trying to explain why the Bears opted to hide information about the imminent danger presented by the clearly crazed and possibly armed Ratliff – specifics the team felt it important to disclose to police – at one point trying to diminish his own responsibility by saying, “I’m just a football coach …I don’t do all that.” He spent Sunday overseeing another opportunity squandered against a beatable divisional foe.
As a public spokesperson, he makes a pretty good football coach. Except that part doesn’t look so good, either. None of it does.
Sources tell 670 The Score that some in the organization above Fox are concerned about the inadequacy of the response to Ratliff’s repeated, specific threats of violence, including both the secrecy that potentially imperiled non-team personnel present that day and the decision to let Fox be the highest-ranking official to speak on the Bears’ behalf. There’s at least some awareness that better practices should have been followed at several points along the timeline, ensuring public safety and reducing possible legal exposure. Not everybody up there is an idiot, even if it often seems that way.
Something lacking seems to be a theme with the Bears, who again showed that on the field as well. A roster featuring too many castoffs and street free agents got exposed again on special teams by another return for a touchdown, and multiple late breakdowns in the defensive secondary spotlighted individuals’ deficiencies in both pass coverage and tackling that allowed Vikings’ quarterback Teddy Bridgewater a 141.2 passer rating in the fourth quarter after just 38.1 in the other three. Then rookie running back Jeremy Langford killed a late drive by doing what the team did in dealing with Ratliff – dropping the ball.
The Bears are left with numerous aspects at which they need to get better, lest they continue to both miss reasonable opportunities to win and continue to make us wonder what matters to them beyond relatively meaningless football outcomes.
It was a loss in the standings for them Sunday and a loss of confidence in their priorities and decision-making before that.
In each, the just Bears didn’t do enough.