No, it's not like Ryan Pace and John Fox are having a spat, or that there is such a disconnect between the men that continuing the relationship would be toxic to the team. No, nothing like that. However, if Pace, the guy who generally manages the Chicago Bears, has his wish, he would like to bring in a new head coach after this season to replace John Fox.
In fact, it seems the only way for the raspy-throated Fox to save his job is to win. And while the team may be improved (it would be hard not to!), I don't see the Bears winning more than seven games this season. And that won't save his job. So, unless the Bears go 10-6, for example, Fox will be back on the market, unless he decides to retire.
Hell, even 10-6 doesn't guarantee a job, as Lovie Smith found out. But if the Bears get ahead of their rebuild and start winning, I think there would be too much pressure for Pace to cut bait with the affable Fox.
The relationship between Fox and Pace is an odd one. There were reports that Fox didn't know that Pace was going to draft Trubisky until the pick was announced. While I don't know if I really buy that, it goes to show that this was Pace's pick and not someone that Fox would have drafted.
So, with so much riding on the right arm of first-round draft pick Mitch Trubisky, Pace wants a QB guru and someone he would call "his guy" to be the one he looks to in order to develop the young man. Look, for Pace, this is his legacy. In a nutshell, if Mitch doesn't work out, that's probably the end of Pace as a GM in the league, at least for awhile.
Yep, Pace has staked his reputation on the kid, so he isn't going to leave his development up to just anyone. Not that Fox is "just anyone"; he did, after all, make it work for a few games with Tim Tebow and gave the first-ever start to a kid named Cam Newton.
But Fox simply isn't known as a quarterback whisperer, so Pace will look for an offensive-minded coach to lead the Bears starting next season, perhaps someone similar to Sean Payton, who is the coach of Pace's former team, the Saints. Or, maybe even Payton himself!
Fox is more of a defensive mind, and while that doesn't preclude the man from hiring a competent offensive assistant, I have a source in the organization who tells me Pace would feel more comfortable with a younger coach, someone who is less "old skool" and more innovative.
And hey, it's not like Foxy doesn't know this. In fact, this source tells me that he has admitted as much, though he intends to give it his all and try to win as many games as possible this season, for Fox isn't ready to hang 'em up from what I hear, and he generally likes it in Chicago.
One thing is almost certain: he's either going to be gone after this season or he will be extended. Teams rarely let their head coaches enter the last year of a contract, it's just not a common practice in the NFL.
Meanwhile, it would be hard to watch, but it certainly wouldn't be the end of the world for the Bears to suck again this season, so that they could get another high draft pick and continue the rebuild. And nobody would expect a rookie QB to immediately be great, so Pace will be given time to get Mitch ready for the next level.
In the meantime, Pace will want to make sure that he doesn't rush his young QB. The fear is that he could get injured, or fail to impress, which could start the boo-birds and hurt the kid's confidence. Pace wants Trubisky to have every advantage he can have before he unleashes him to the NFL.
Sure, injuries could force his hand, but Pace would be thrilled if Mitch wore a headset for all 16 games. He isn't ready, and the team doesn't have all of the weapons that Pace desires to make his QB successful. The offensive line is of special importance to the Bears GM, as he doesn't want to see his young QB on his back a lot.
The Bears won't say this publicly, but don't be surprised if they have a losing record for at least one or two more years after this one without any threat to Pace's tenure. He will be here until Trubisky proves he is boom or bust.
So who could take Foxy's place as the next head coach? Forget the rumors about Jeff Fisher, that simply ain't gong to happen, even though George likes him.
I admit I truly have no idea who the next coach might be. Now that Cutler is gone, the Patriots Josh McDaniels is fair game. The Seahawks' Darrell Bevell or the are possibilities I suppose. Or someone in-house, like Dowell Loggains? I hate the name, but the Lions' Jim Bob Cooter always comes up in talks, and none other than Peyton Manning endorses him.
The Packers' OC Edgar Bennett, the Eagles Frank Reich, and the Rams' OC Matt LeFleur are other names on the coaching radar. But Pace can take his time deciding, for he is on the Mitch Trubisky clock. Fox, however, isn't so fortunate.
There is no pressure on Pace to win NOW like there is on Fox.
Pace has time to sort this all out and he's going to do it his way. He isn't going anywhere—George McCaskey loves him. Fox, on the other hand, not so much. McCaskey likes him, too, but it's Pace's decision to retain or replace his coach, and Pace won't be afraid to flex his muscle and drop the hammer on old Foxy.
In fact, as Hawk would say, he gone!
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