Can John Fox Bring the Chicago Bears a Championship?

Nov 9, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Chicago Bears head coach John Fox looks on during the first quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 9, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Chicago Bears head coach John Fox looks on during the first quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

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Chicago Bears head coach John Fox has a reputation as a builder, or re-builder.  He’s taken teams from the scrap heap to the Super Bowl in relatively short order.  Oddly enough, his last two employers are playing in Super Bowl 50, as the Carolina Panthers match up against the Denver Broncos with Foxy’s immediate successors Ron Rivera and Gary Kubiak leading the respective teams.

Fox fell into Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace’s lap after the 2014 season when Fox and Broncos GM John Elway agreed to “mutually part ways” following a disappointing early departure from last season’s playoffs.

"“I think John did a great job when he as here — there’s no question,” Elway said. “He won four AFC West championships, so he did a tremendous job.“It just got to the point where … it was kind of like we talked about [after the change was made], it was a mutual parting of the ways. He decided that he wanted to go in a different direction and we said, ‘That’s fine, we’ll go in this direction, too.’ I think it worked out for both sides.”"

So naturally after firing Fox, the Broncos hired offensive-minded Gary Kubiak and surged into the playoffs not behind Peyton Manning’s noodle arm, but behind the defense; a defense that John Fox had put together and built over the last few years.  Would Denver had gotten back to “the big game” if Fox were still at the controls?  Did Kubiak really put them over the top?  Elway sure seems to think so.

"“This is why we made the decision,” the Broncos’ general manager said Monday at “Super Bowl Opening Night” at SAP Center. “This was the idea — to get better and get past the first round.“We had a good regular season, but struggled in the first round. So the idea, the goal — what our owner wants — is to win a championship. That’s why the decision was made last year to go in a different direction. And Gary’s done a tremendous job.”"

The Carolina Panthers’ path to the Super Bowl isn’t quite as direct after firing Fox.  They dismissed Fox back in 2010 after a nine-year run in Carolina.   Former Chicago Bear Ron Rivera took over for Fox in 2011 and has been building this version of the Panthers for the last several years.

Seeing John Fox’s last two teams, coached by his immediate successors, begs the question: Can John Fox lead the Bears to a championship?  

Fox has an impressive reputation and his resume as a winner with a lifetime 125-99 record as an NFL head coach.  He took over a Carolina Panthers team that was 1-15 in 2001 and just two seasons later, they were playing in the Super Bowl behind quarterback Jake Delhomme.  Fox led the Panthers to the playoffs two other times during his tenure in Carolina, but never back to the Super Bowl.

Fox was in a similar situation with the Broncos as his current situation with the Bears, taking over for the train wreck first time NFL head coach.  Josh McDaniels, meet Marc Trestman.  After getting off to a 1-4 start, Fox and his coaching staff inserted Tim Tebow for the struggling Kyle Orton and rode Tebow-mania to a division title but even a playoff stunner, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime of their Wild Card round game.  Yes, Tim Tebow has as many playoff wins as Jay Cutler.

When you watch the Broncos on Sunday, John Fox’s fingerprints will be all over that Broncos team.  He built that defense from the ground up.  The storylines will be about Peyton Manning and the offense, but this version of the Broncos has ridden their defense to Santa Clara.

I have no doubt that John Fox can bring the Bears back to the Super Bowl.  We’ve already seen tremendous progress in just one season.  Ryan Pace will get a lot of credit or shoulder blame for the players that are brought in through free agency and the draft, but John Fox will have a lot to do with that.

Fox has proven to be a good builder, it’s time the Bears give him a chance to be a winner and lift a trophy.