Cup of Joe: Check the Expiration Date

Cup of Joe: Check the Expiration Date
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 18: Head coach John Fox of the Chicago Bears looks on from the sidelines in the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on December 18, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Written by Joe Tidei/Special to Bears Backer

You’ve heard all the cliche's, 'NFL is not for long', 'coaches are hired to be fired', etc. There’s some truth to them.

Most NFL coaches have a shelf life, unless you’re Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin or John Harbaugh. Every year, multiple jobs open after Black Monday, the day after the last week of the season when teams give their head coaches the pink slip.

Usually, poorly run organizations cycle through coaches every few years and that is no way to run a franchise. The Bears absolutely need stability on the sideline, however, I’ve felt for a few weeks now that a change needed to be made and that was before the Packers game.

John Fox has been dealt a very bad hand this year with the injuries and PED suspensions and I have taken that into account with my evaluation. For me, it’s as simple as asking this question; has Fox taken this team as far as he can?

Look at the Cubs and Blackhawks. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer hired and fired two coaches; Dale Sveum and Rick Renteria before landing Joe Maddon. Dale Tallon fired Blackhawk legend Dennis Savard and hired Joel Quenneville.

What do both of these situations have in common? The Cubs and Blackhawks tore everything down and their rebuilds were in stages. Each manager and coach served a purpose in that rebuild and when the time came, a change was needed.

Ryan Pace hired Fox to lay down a foundation, evaluate and develop young talent. That’s what Fox is good at.

Right now, the Bears are in between stage one and stage two of their rebuild. They cleaned out all the garbage and are bringing in young talent. Fox was good for stage one, but I don’t believe he’s the best fit for stage two and beyond.

The Bears have been competitive in most of their games this year. That’s a testament to Fox’s skills as a motivator and leader, but this business is about wins and losses.

My biggest qualms with Fox this year are the losses to the Jaguars and Colts, poor in game coaching, preparation and lack of adjustments.

I tweeted a stat the other day about how bad the Bears are in the second half this year. They are 25th in scoring and 26th in points allowed. You can’t simply say that’s all lack of talent and injuries. Coaching is a big reason why the Bears haven’t finished games and why they get outplayed in the 2nd half.

I have no idea what Pace thinks of Fox’s future in Chicago, but no one’s job should be safe after a year like this.

Pace might have wanted to give Fox another year as that may have been the original plan, but the variables have changed. Despite having terrible cards throughout the year, Fox has misplayed his good hands and wasted opportunities.

There are no moral victories and competitive losses are just that, losses in the context of where this franchise is. They still have the talent to win games, as showcased in Sunday’s brutal loss to Green Bay.

I don’t care about a top five pick or draft position. Great organizations can identify talent anywhere in the draft and know how to get the players they want. We witnessed that with Pace in the 2016 draft.

There is more value in winning the last two games and closing out the season strong than securing a top draft pick. Tanking doesn’t work, especially in the NFL where there is no development league.

It’s time for Pace to check the expiration date on Fox because he may have gone sour before he was supposed to.

Author's note: Joe is an associate producer at CSN Chicago. Give him a follow on Twitter @Joe_Tidei. He talks Chicago sports all day every day.

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