John Fox Interviews with Chicago Bears, Flies Back to Denver


Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It was a strange day for Chicago Bears fans on Wednesday.  The good news is that new GM Ryan Pace interviewed John Fox for their head coaching vacancy.  The bad news?  Fox was on a flight back to Denver late Wednesday evening.  How did Pace and the Bears brain trust let arguably the most qualified candidate get out of the building?  Did he forget his favorite orange and blue tie?  Did something go sour after a daylong interview?  This is Ryan Pace’s watershed moment and he’s got to get this hire done and done correctly.

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Phil Emery blew his head coaching pick.  He let Coach of the Year Bruce Arians walk right out the door of Halas Hall and selected Marc Trestman.  The rest, as they say, is a sharp stick to the eye.  Pace cannot start his regime by blowing the head coaching hire.  The obvious choice is often the best choice.  He doesn’t need to get cute and fancy; he just needs to make the clear choice.

One reason that Pace needs to make a decision is because the coaching carousel is starting to slow down.  There aren’t many chairs left in this multi-million dollar game of musical chairs.  Wednesday was the day when a bunch of moves solidified and the chairs dwindled down to a precious few.  Let’s look at the moves so far:

Buffalo Bills – Rex Ryan

New York Jets – Todd Bowles

Oakland Raiders – Jack del Rio

San Francisco 49ers – Jim Tomsula

Atlanta Falcons – ???

Denver Broncos – ???

Chicago Bears – ???

The Bears interviewed former Broncos OC Adam Gase and Seahawks DC Dan Quinn before Pace arrived, and Pace picked it up with sit downs with Bowles, former Bills head coach Doug Marrone, Lions DC Teryl Austin and John Fox.  Quinn is believed to be the frontrunner for the Falcons job and Gase appears to be match with the Broncos.  What does that mean for the Bears?  It sounds like it could be down to Austin or Marrone for Bears if they balk on Fox.

You wonder why Fox ended up on a plane headed back to Denver on Wednesday evening.  Did the Bears blink at salary demands?  With Rex Ryan getting 4/$27.5M and Cowboy HC Jason Garrett getting 5 years and $30M puts Fox’s price tag in the range of $6 million per year.  With Emery and Trestman still on the books, could the Bears be balking at the salary demands?

Fox is an experienced head coach who knows how to build a team.  He and Broncos GM John Elway didn’t agree on how to get the Broncos to the next level.  Could it be that Fox and Pace didn’t see eye to eye on how to rebuild the Bears?  Is this just a bad match?  Would Pace lean toward a younger, up and comer like himself?  That would point to Quinn or Austin?  Would Pace lean toward someone with whom he’s got a good relationship?  That would put Doug Marrone in his crosshairs.

I don’t know if John Fox is the best candidate.  Austin or Quinn could have higher ceilings in the long term.  But the thing about Fox is that he’s the safe choice.  He can right the ship and stabilize the Bears.  I don’t know if he’s the guy who gets the Bears to their stated goal of multiple championships, but he’s the guy who gets them out of the huge hole they’re in.

Fox knows how to put a staff together.  If reports are to be believed, Fox will likely bring Dennis Allen as his DC and Kyle Shanahan as his OC.

Those are both top choices.  Allen is known for his complex blitz packages and got a head coaching job after being Fox’s DC in Denver.  Shanahan is the son of Mike, the guy who drafted Cutler and was able to make RGIII a rookie of the year in his offensive system for the Redskins.

This is Ryan Pace’s first big moment with the Chicago Bears.  Can he close the deal?