Chicago Bears’ head coach John Fox went from a six win debut season in 2015, to a three win season in 2016. This was troubling because at his previous two head coaching stops, his teams each saw an increase in wins the second year. Most expected the same 2nd year bump from Fox’s team, but there was too much inconsistent play in all three phases for that to happen.
Fox’s 2016 Bears’ team did suffer through some key injuries, most notably starting three different quarterbacks, but suspensions to two of the best players on the roster hurt them as well.
Is there a magic number of wins Fox needs to achieve to ensure he returns for a third season? Will he get a pass if the team is breaking in a rookie signal caller?
Rotoworld’s Patrick Daugherty, went through their annual ranking of NFL head coaches and Fox was in the middle of the pack.
18. John Fox
Career Record: 128-112 (.533)
With The Bears Since: 2015
Last Year’s Ranking: 16
Who will be the next Jeff Fisher? The answer is there will never be another Jeff Fisher. John Fox is the closest thing we’ve got, though the comparison is imperfect because Fox is both less interesting and more accomplished than Ol’ Uncle 7-9. A two-time conference champion, Fox’s calling card is stability and respectability. He’s had neither in Chicago, letting Jay Cutler derail him to a 9-23 record in two years on the job. Fox’s defense overachieved in 2016, as did rookie RB Jordan Howard and second-year UDFA Cameron Meredith. Those were the lone moral victories in a 3-13 campaign. If Fox can’t get his team in gear to at least a Fisher-ian 7-9 or 8-8 in 2017, the Bears are likely to reach the same conclusion John Elway did in Denver: You are never going to win a Super Bowl with John Fox.
This Bears team isn’t going to win a Super Bowl in 2017, regardless of the head coach, and I’m not sure how Cutler derailed the team for two years.
I found the Rotoworld list interesting because two former Bears’ assistant coaches, who are each running their own team, made the top 10.
2015 Chicago offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who just finished his first year as head coach with the Miami Dolphins, also interviewed with the Bears for their head coaching vacancy in 2015. I wonder if the franchise would have been better off had they hired Gase as their head coach?
10. Adam Gase
Career Record: 10-6 (.625)
With The Dolphins Since: 2016
Last Year’s Ranking: – –
After years in Joe Philbin jail, the Dolphins suddenly have the NFL’s brightest coaching prospect. Adam Gase’s coordinating momentum continued unabated his first year as his own boss. Dealing with one of the league’s most unwieldy rosters, Gase stabilized Ryan Tannehill before losing him to injury. Traditionally, this would have been when Miami’s season went off the rails. Not with Gase. The rookie head coach managed and manipulated a 2-1 record out of journeyman Matt Moore, clinching the Dolphins’ first postseason appearance since 2008. Despite talent limitations on both sides of the ball, Gase displayed an innate ability to put his players in the best position to succeed. It wasn’t all about his “system.” Gase played to his team’s strengths, not his own rigid vision of what winning football is supposed to look like. It’s what he did with Peyton Manning in Denver, and Jay Cutler in Chicago. With Gase at the controls, the Dolphins might finally break New England’s one-party rule of the AFC East.
Losing Gase as OC definitely hurt the continuity of the Bears’ offense last season.
In 2006 Ron Rivera just finished up his second consecutive season coordinating the Bears’ defense to a top 5 ranking. That season was also the last time the Bears won the NFC, but even though the team and the D had great success, the Bears parted ways with Ron Rivera.
Head coach Lovie Smith put “Lovie guy” Bob Babich in charge of the D and it took a big step back. Rivera eventually got back into the league and landed the head coaching position with the Carolina Panthers.
9. Ron Rivera
Career Record: 53-42-1 (.557)
With The Panthers Since: 2011
Last Year’s Ranking: 8
Ron Rivera has won a division at 7-8-1 and lost a Super Bowl at 15-1. It’s been an interesting ride. 2016 was the valley after the peak, with Rivera’s squad slumping to its worst finish (6-10) since his first year on the job. Not exactly the title defense Rivera had in mind, though the Panthers were a more palatable 5-5 after their bye. One of the game’s brightest defensive minds, Rivera is always going to take care of his side of the ball (last season’s 402 points allowed excepted). The question is how he evolves as Cam Newton ages. Carolina’s offense wants to be prehistoric, but is sometimes merely medieval, abandoning the run game it has typically needed to win. Rivera understands this, commenting after 2016 that Newton can’t be the team’s leading rusher. A true leader, Rivera’s understated tone is the perfect counterbalance to Newton’s galaxy-conquering swagger. A nice guy with no interest in finishing last, expect Rivera to make the necessary 2017 adjustments.
So what do you guys think?
Is 2017 the year Fox and the Bears turn things around or will 2017 be the last year for Fox in Chicago?