John Fox, Coaching Proves Key in Chicago Bears Victory over Green Bay Packers
What a difference a year makes.
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Last season, the Chicago Bears faced the Green Bay Packers on a nationally televised game from Lambeau Field. The Bears trailed 42-0 at halftime and lost in a nail biter, 55-14. It was a microcosm of the season. Jay Cutler turned the ball over three times, and the defense was so bad that the team was down multiple scores in the blink of an eye. The Bears lost both games to Green Bay last season by a score of 93-31. Their long time rival embarrassed the team and it was these embarrassing failures were at the top of the list as to why Marc Trestman and Phil Emery were shown the door.
Fast-forward one season.
Through eleven games this season, the Bears sit with a 5-6 record, ironically, that’s the same record they had at this point last season, but things have most certainly changed. Last season, the Bears lost seven games by double figures, this season they’ve only lost two, and both those games were thanks to horrific performances from Jimmy Clausen. Since Jay Cutler has returned from his injury, the Bears have a very respectable 5-3 record with the three losses coming by a combined 8 points.
The roster has been seriously overhauled, but many of the key players- Cutler, Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett- have returned on offense. The defense has seen a serious face-lift, but they players that the Bears brought it weren’t exactly household names. But one change has seriously impacted this team and is the reason why things are looking up in Chicago- Trestman is out, and John Fox is in.
Nov 26, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) and head coach John Fox fist bump before the game against the Green Bay Packers for a NFL game on Thanksgiving at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
There’s no question in my mind that John Fox is doing the best coaching job of his career. This is a coach that has appeared in two Super Bowls and has six division championships, and it’s not even close. John Fox should win coach of the year with this performance, and I have a feeling things are only getting better for Chicago’s last five games.
I understand Bill Belichick is having his typical great year with the New England Patriots, and I’m also certain that Ron Rivera is going to win the award with the Carolina Panthers. His Panthers are 11-0 and he’s a lock to win the vote, but I don’t care what the NFL writers decide, no one has done a better job than Fox.
This Chicago Bears team was a humiliation last season. Yes, they’ve had worse records in franchise history, but no team has ever been less competitive. They quit on their coach, their play was pathetic, and the locker room squabbles were embarrassing. This year, the team plays every game like it was their last, their execution is crisp, and the improved play is really staggering.
Fox brought in Adam Gase to run the offense and Vic Fangio to run the defense, both coaches were in fine-form Thanksgiving night against the Green Bay Packers. Last season’s Lambeau embarrassment was very far in the rear view mirror, this season’s nationally televised game at Lambeau far much different. Fangio kept Aaron Rodgers bottled up all night, the secondary did an excellent job shutting down the passing game, and offensively, it was a chess match between Gase and Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers, and it was one that was won by Gase. Gase steadily wore down the Packers defense and despite only putting 17 points on the board, it was an outstanding game plan on the offense in rough conditions that did just enough to bring home a title.
One year after those embarrassing losses to the Packers, the Bears finished this year’s games with the Packers with a very respectable 1-1 record with the total points scored at 44-40 (in favor of Green Bay). Last year’s team was outscored by 62 points in two games, this year, a mere four.
The Bears are on the move. Four of their next five games are very winnable. The Bears are looking at no worse than an 8-8 record, but could finish as well as 9-7, perhaps even 10-6. The Bears are officially in the hunt for the playoffs. They are a team that opponents can no longer overlook. They might only be 5-6, but John Fox’s Chicago Bears have arrived and the rest of the NFL needs to take notice.