By Chris Emma–
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) — Within the next week, John Fox is likely to sit down with members of the Bears’ brass and learn of his dismissal as head coach.
Fox often reminds that this is a results-based business, and his record speaks for itself, with the Bears 14-33 since he was hired in January 2015. Though we’ve reached Week 17 of the season, Fox has yet to inquire about his status moving forward and said he will focus on that when the offseason begins next Monday.
In a season from which more was expected, the Bears are 5-10 and Fox’s fate seems sealed.
“I don’t worry about it,” Fox said Tuesday when peppered with questions about his future. “I’ve never had trouble getting employment in this league, and I’m not going to start worrying about it now.
“It’s not my first rodeo. I’ve been doing this for 28 years and (16) as a head coach. This is par for the course in this league. There’s a lot of speculation every year, and this year is no different.”
A head coach since 2002, Fox turns 63 four days after the Super Bowl in February. He was at the helm as Carolina and Denver won conference championships but has fallen far short of expectations in Chicago. Only Bill Parcells and Marty Schottenheimer have served as the head coach of four different NFL teams.
Fox could become a head coaching candidate to a team that believes it can contend in 2018. With perhaps double-digit vacancies by next week, he may get another chance. His argument to his three years in Chicago being unsuccessful is pretty simple, and it entails blaming his boss.
The Bears tabbed Fox as their head coach after the debacle with Marc Trestman had run its course. Fox was asked to bring continuity to a toxic locker room and oversee the development of a rebuilding roster. Ryan Pace was hired a week earlier, then as the youngest general manager in the league, and tasked with overhauling an aging roster into something sustainable.
Three years and 34 losses have seen Fox not prove to be the right man to bring steady organizational growth. His years in Carolina and Denver brought success with rosters ready to contend.
Did Fox realize the challenge of this job in Chicago?
“When you’re doing this and you’re in the trenches and you’re doing it every day, you don’t really know until you dig in,” Fox said. “We’ve definitely made a lot of changes. I’ve said many times, we’ve gone from the oldest roster in football to one of the younger ones now. I don’t know exactly where we rank. I think we got a good, young, talented roster. I think we still have holes. But at least we’re kind of at a level playing field now.
“Has it been easy? If you’re asking that question, I’d say no.”
The Bears hired Fox on a four-year deal in 2015, while Pace was given a five-year contract a week prior. Pace is presumably safe in his role, with the Bears seeming likely to empower him in finding their next head coach. However, the house cleaning in 2014 reminds that nobody should feel safe when losing has overtaken a proud organization.
Fox pointed to the plentiful “erasing” conducted by the Bears during his tenure. As the chief talent evaluator, Pace has failed to replace what he has removed. Look at the position of wide receiver, where rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky doesn’t have the targets with which to be successful. Pace allowed Alshon Jeffery to test the open market but didn’t have a capable No. 1 ready to take over.
For the better part of three years, the Bears have been working with replacement-level players thrust into key positions. Blame that on injuries and inconsistencies, but don’t put that burden on the shoulders of Fox.
Perhaps he could be right back in the playoffs next season if provided with the ideal situation and structure. Fox may instead spend 2018 fishing in Florida if the coaching carousel doesn’t work his way.
Change seems all but certain at Halas Hall as Fox begins what’s likely his last week with the Bears.