Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
A week ago, John Fox was preparing the Denver Broncos to host the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Divisional playoffs. Just five days later, he’s the head coach of the Chicago Bears. Call it serendipity. Call it things falling right into place for the Chicago Bears.
Talk about a whirlwind week for the nearly 60-year-old veteran coach. That’s just how the NFL works these days. It’s about decisiveness and timing and a little bit of luck. Despite reports to the contrary, Fox didn’t have a golden Bears parachute waiting in the event the Broncos lost against the Colts:
"When the Bears interviewed Fox on Wednesday, people wondered if he already had the job lined up in case the Broncos lost.“That’s not true,” Fox said. “I didn’t have any jobs lined up. I didn’t know I wasn’t going to have one, other than I heard from plenty of places (that I might be let go). There were no guarantees. I didn’t have any guarantees. Look, it was mutual. We both agreed to part ways.”"
Fox literally got the first class treatment from his new boss Ryan Pace. Catching a last-minute flight out of Denver, Pace gave up the last first class seat on their United flight for Fox. That’s the way to build a relationship and show deference to your prized head coach, Ryan!
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Is John Fox some innovator? No. Is he going to surprise teams with some unconventional scheme? Not that either. What John Fox brings to the Bears and their dysfunctional locker room is respect and instant credibility. Fox may not have as high of a ceiling as a Todd Bowles or Dan Quinn, but his floor is much higher. In a world of unknowns, Fox provides the Bears stability. Fox provides the veteran presence of a head football coach who’s a proven winner.
Fox has gotten a reputation for relatively quick turnarounds. He took over train wrecks and in short order was able to get his new teams turned around. Fox took over a 1-15 Carolina Panthers team and they went 7-9 and then 11-5, including a Super Bowl appearance, within two seasons.
Fox took over Josh McDaniels’ mess in Denver, taking the Broncos from a 4-win team to the playoffs the next season, with a little help from Marion Barber as most Bears fans will remember. That Broncos team went on to win a playoff game with Tim Tebow at the helm. Fox adapted his schemes midseason to take advantage of Tebow’s unique skill set and allow him to thrive. Although Tebow got all the headlines, make no mistake about it, it was done with a running game and defense.
The Broncos went on to win their division in all four of Fox’s seasons in Denver after Peyton Manning arrived. The Broncos reached the Super Bowl following the 2013 season, Fox’s third season with the team. Even this season, as it was clear Peyton Manning had lost something off his fastball down the stretch, the Broncos adjusted their game plans and shifted to a run first approach with CJ Anderson.
If the Bears had hired John Fox immediately after Lovie Smith, the comparisons would be staggering. Defensive minded head coach, get off the bus running team and can’t win the big game. It took the failed Marc Trestman era to make the tried and true a little more palatable. Let’s face it, Bears fans, Fox will bring the Bears back to their roots.
Fox will bring back Chicago Bears football – hard-nosed, run first, tough, physical football. It was nice seeing how the other half lives, but let’s face it, it didn’t suit us. We want our football team to line up on 3rd and 1 and run it up gut to pick up the first down. We’ve seen enough tunnel screens to last a lifetime.
In hiring Fox, it shows a lot about Ryan Pace. As a young GM, he didn’t get overwhelmed by the moment. He wasn’t intimidated to bring in a veteran head coach who’s probably forgotten for football than Pace knows right now. Pace didn’t outthink himself or try to make some creative, out of the box hire. The best candidate for Pace’s team was presented to him on a golden platter and he did everything necessary to bring him home. Even pursuing him to Denver and giving up his first class seat on the flight home.
What do you think of the hire? Can John Fox get the Bears back to respectability? Can we get them to the “big game” and ultimately return the Bears to glory?