For the first time since firing Lovie Smith after a (10-6) season, the Chicago Bears front office made a swift and deliberate decision, signing John Fox as the new head coach, allowing him just 96 hours on the open market. President Ted Phillips and new General Manager Ryan Pace have shown real faith in Fox, signing him to a four-year deal, clearly giving him free reign as far rebuilding is concerned. However, after the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning, Fox will have his hands his full with a Bears that roster, that let’s face it, needs some work.
In 2002 John Fox took a Carolina Panthers team, which had finished (1-15) the pervious season, and in just two seasons was playing in the Super Bowl. He knows what it takes to wins and builds around the talent he’s got to do it.
Although Fox struck gold with Peyton Manning in Denver, he hasn’t always had an easy roster to work with. Prior to Manning’s arrival Tim Tebow led the team to a (8-8) record and surprisingly enough won a playoff game against the Steelers. Before that he took a Carolina Panthers team to the Super Bowl with undrafted free against Jake Delhomme at quarterback. He can win both with a quarterback and without one, leaving the Bears with options as far as Cutler is concerned.
Though Marc Trestman facilitated a career renaissance for Matt Forte, John Fox’s arrival may bring even more production out of the 29-year old back. Before his record-breaking days with Manning, the former Panthers and Broncos coach preferred to run the football, finishing in the top-three in offensive rushing yards for three seasons as a Head Coach. This year the Broncos moved from Montee Ball to Ronnie Hillman to C.J Anderson at running back and still finished 15th in the league in rushing yards and ninth rushing touchdowns.
His ability to get production out of multiple running backs with different running styles could prove to be a real breath of fresh air for Chicago. It remains to be seen whether he will continue to develop Ka’Deem Carey or find his own prospects via the draft or free agency. John Fox has proven Knowshon Moreno to be a talent and gotten solid production out of an older Willis McGahee, connecting with Matt Forte should no problem, even after passing on him in 2008 NFL Draft, picking instead Jonathan Stewart.
Throughout his head coaching career John Fox has inherited strong wide receivers. With Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas on the roster, John Fox never had pressure to draft receivers in Denver and Mushin Muhammad and Steve Smith were the two starting wide outs when he arrived in Carolina. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery should make life easy for Fox, at least as far as receiver is concerned.
Aside from running the football, defense may be the one area where John Fox brings the most experience and knowledge. In 13 seasons as a NFL head coach, seven of John Fox’s teams have finished in the top-10 in yards allowed as he been able to win with dominant defensive lines.
In his first draft at Carolina the team drafted Julius Pepper number two overall and in his first draft in Denver the team choose Von Miller number two overall. With the signing of John Fox the Bears number seven pick will now almost assuredly become a dominant defensive end.