Chicago Bears: Despite Record, John Fox Should Not be Fired
John Fox has a losing record in his two seasons as Chicago Bears head coach, but he deserves another year to turn this team around.
When the Chicago Bears hired John Fox to be their head coach in 2015, different results were expected. The Bears had just fired Marc Trestman after two dysfunctional seasons (13-19 record), and Fox was seen as a complete opposite of Trestman. The offensive-minded, pass-happy Trestman replaced by the old-school, run-first Fox. Bears fans were promised that better results would soon follow.
However, in the first two seasons of the John Fox-era, the Bears’ record has actually regressed. What once was a franchise to be proud of has become a laughingstock amongst fans. As the attendance at Soldier Field will tell you, fans have become disinterested in the team. And really, who can blame them? The charter franchise of the NFL hasn’t won the NFC North since 2010. Moreover, the team has made just one trip to the playoffs in the past 10 years.
With the 2016 season not bringing improvement, Bears fans have been clamoring that change needs to be made. More specifically, they’re saying that Fox needs to be fired. While it certainly would be satisfying for fans to have someone take the fall for a decade of losing, it would not be in the best interest of the team.
Teams do not improve with constant turnover at the top. The Bears already have had three different head coaches and general managers in the past six seasons, and you see where that has gotten them. The NFL is a win-now business, so it’s understandable why fans want to usher Fox out the door. However, constantly turning over coaches gets you nowhere.
Just look at the Cleveland Browns. In the past eight years, the Browns have had five different head coaches. During that time, the team has only won 33 games. Now, they might be an extreme case, but the Browns are a perfect example that changing coaches does not guarantee future success.
It takes time for a head coach to get to know his personnel. But establishing the culture that they want also isn’t immediate. When Fox was hired, he had to first put a supporting staff around him (which led to Jay Cutler having to learn a whole new playbook again), and then could focus on which players he wanted around for the long-run. Trestman left the team in disarray and Fox had to lead the Bears back to a level of respectability, which it appears he has done.
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While the Bears’ record under Fox hasn’t been great, he has the team fighting hard. In the last few games under Trestman, the team quit and showed no fight. As a result, the Bears were not respected by other teams around the league.
Under Fox, however, other teams at least have to respect the Bears. Fox has his team playing hard and, even though they were out of playoff contention early in the year, they have given every opponent a fight. That alone shows that Fox’s message is getting across to the players, and that the players have respect for their head coach.
The hand that Fox has been dealt this season has not been great either. Injuries are part of the game and every team in the league has to deal with them. That said, the Bears have been hit unusually hard by them this season. At least 15 players have been put on injured reserve, including starting quarterback Jay Cutler, Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long, and free agent signee Danny Trevathan. That’s doesn’t even touch on the countless number of players who have been in and out of the lineup on a weekly basis. Subsequently, rookies and second-year players have been thrusted into much larger roles than they are ready for.
Given the circumstances, Fox has done a pretty good job. This season, the Bears have lost six games by a touchdown or less. When you consider the Bears have started three different quarterbacks in those games, it’s a testament to Fox and his coaching staff for having everyone ready to play.
Let’s be honest; this hasn’t been a great Bears season to watch or follow. The team is closer to picking first in the 2017 NFL Draft than they are to being a playoff contender. However, if John Fox is fired, what does that get you?
First off, who’s going to replace him? And second, do you really think the Bears are a new head coach away from being a Super Bowl team? What the Bears need is more talent and depth on the roster. If Bill Belichick was coaching this team, the Bears would probably be in the same situation as they are now.
John Fox has the team moving in the right direction. The win-loss record may not be ideal, but if more talent is infused into this roster in the offseason, there could be a significant improvement in 2017. Talent is important, but continuity is too. You don’t make significant improvement if you jump ship at every opportunity you get. If you want to make Fox’s season a make-or-break one next year, then you can. But Fox (and the Bears franchise) deserve to see if the third year is the charm.