When John Fox was hired by the Bears just over one year ago, there were a lot of mixed feelings among fans.
There was some excitement: the franchise hired its first experienced head coach in what felt like eons, the hire immediately restored credibility to a charter team that's luster had dulled for much of the past two decades and finally, Fox had a track record of turning the fortunes of his teams around...quickly.
There was also some trepidation: Fox has never been known for winning championships, his history of conservative coaching arguably got him fired and likely cost him some of that postseason success.
All-in-all though, it was definitely the right move for the Bears at time: a team in need of a quick rebuild and a coach who could bring back the confidence and unify a locker room that was in disarray.
Fox generally met expectations this year, even with a modest one-win improvement in 2015. The team played above its talent-level, Fox hired great assistants and the team was in the majority of its games until the very end.
If that was the belief, his two former teams are proof of that.
The Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos will meet in the Super Bowl. Fox last coached the former five seasons ago in 2010 and the Broncos just one season ago. He had Denver in the big game just two seasons ago.
Now, the detractors will say that its coincidence that Fox had a hand on both teams because in the NFL its easy to turn things around pretty quickly with shrewd drafting and good hires, but I think there is a John Fox effect on both of these teams.
Sure, Fox doesn't get the talent acquisition or drafting credit of a Bill Belichick but he's had his fair share of success developing players.
There's no denying that John Elway has done a great job as a general manager, from bringing in Peyton Manning to Bradley Roby, Derek Wolfe and Brock Osweiler.
However, some of the key players on Denver's great teams of the past few years were coached by Fox. Danny Trevathan, Malik Jackson, Omar Bolden, Michael Schofield and Matt Paradis.
There are over a dozen players on the Broncos that were acquired while Fox was coach, including around six starters. There are at least six players on the Panthers that are still hold overs from the Fox era.
However, more than talent, Fox left a lasting impact on both franchises.
He had philosophical differences with Elway that left to his "mutual parting" from the team but to say that Fox didn't leave a mark on the Broncos is untrue.
Just as with the Panthers, Fox was a good enough coach that the bosses in each job looked for certain traits of Fox's in his replacements.
Both Ron Rivera and Gary Kubiak are positive-minded coaches who inspire their players and lead with a high energy style. Their players enjoy playing for them.
Fox wore out his welcome in both places, for whatever reason: declining results or lack of postseason success but he had a lot of good enough qualities that the teams wanted some of those same features in their next coach.
Even though he doesn't get a ton of the credit for the talent acquisition, he obviously can coach up his players and develop players into starters. Fox has improved the Bears and his history suggests that his impact will be lasting.
Am I grasping at straws, or do you really think that Fox has had a legitimate impact on the Panthers' and Broncos' current situation?