Written by Joe Tidei/Special to Bears Backer
Last week, I wrote about the Bears need to check the expiration date on John Fox to see if he’s gone sour. I’d like to double down on that and it has nothing to do with Sunday’s shellacking vs. Washington.
Listening to Chicago sports radio and reading articles about the Bears this week, the majority sentiment is that Fox is likely to be back and a coaching change would bring instability; more downside than upside.
In most cases, I’m inclined to agree. However, staying the course when you’re destined to wreck or get lost as sea isn’t a good idea either.
Here’s my case for firing Fox; his name is Ryan Pace and he’s more important than the head coach. Great organizations are built from the top down and in football, talent evaluation is the key to sustaining success.
Sure, x’s and o’s, game plans, locker room dynamics and player relationships all matter, but they mean nothing without talent.
From year 1 to year 2, Pace has taken a step forward in both drafting and free agent signings. Fox, despite the injuries and bad luck, has taken a step back.
Now, it’s not all that black and white and some variables were completely out of Fox’s hands, but I will keep going back to the Jacksonville and Indianapolis games as huge failures and how poor the Bears are in the second half.
Even when this team was healthy they were inconsistent and lost games they shouldn’t have.
Going from a 6-10 record to 3-13 (or 4-12) is not progress when you also consider that the Bears had one of the easiest schedules in the NFL this season.
Adam Gase has won three straight games with Matt Moore as his QB and the Dolphins are going to the playoffs. Matt Moore. I’ll give you $20 if you can tell me what team originally signed him as an undrafted free agent without looking it up first.
Fox stabilized the locker room, developed some younger players and his team plays hard. He’s a Monday-Saturday coach and a damn good one at that, but on Sunday’s his teams have under-performed, even though they fight hard.
For the pro-tanking/higher draft pick crowd. If you believe Fox is fine with losing, let me ask you this. Why has he not been playing Deoindre’ Hall, Jonathan Bullard or Daniel Braverman?
Fox relies on veterans because they give him the best chance to win. Mitch Unrein is a decent player, but we know what he is. Tracy Porter is solid, when healthy, but he’s under-performed recently and is banged up. Josh Bellamy flashes big time ability, but is extremely inconsistent and has displayed a penchant for dropping passes in big moments.
What more does Fox need to see from those three veterans? Maybe Hall, Bullard and Braverman can’t play or aren’t ready, but the players in front of them haven’t done their jobs either. That’s why Fox is selling the media on his players’ effort and fight, because he knows the results aren’t there and that’s an indictment on his coaching.
Now, in a way, Fox has made the Bears better than when he first got here despite the overall record. He stopped the ship from sinking and helped build some pieces. He just hasn’t delivered in other areas he was expected to.
Making a coaching change now wouldn’t be the massive turnover it’s being let on because the Bears have someone in charge that seems to know what he’s doing and this roster isn’t as bad as its record.
If Pace decides to stay with Fox another year, he should do that knowing exactly who Fox is and what he brings to the table. The question is; does Pace want to continue building in stage No. 1 or does he want to assemble more talent and jump to stages No. 2 and No. 3?
My prediction? Pace gives Fox another year to right the ship, but I’ll take new pieces with a new captain.
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.