We are officially in the figurative “dead zone” when it comes to making news in the NFL’s business schedule. As the Chicago Bears and their entire roster hit the beaches, travel the world, or just chill on their couch at home; no news is normally good news. And, in comparison to last year, the Bears had a relatively quiet offseason.
Apparently, former Bears head coach-turned-ESPN analyst John Fox wasn’t impressed.
In his own words, he chose his most recent employer in the NFL as the team who had the worst offseason in 2019. Some of his words describing the choice are as follows.
“I think when you’re going to play defense, you’re going to lean on takeaways to help a young offense, and you don’t have a kicker, a reliable kicker, that you’re going to need those points from after some of those turnovers,” Fox said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “I think the kicking question is really big right now in Chicago. And I think that might be a problem for them in the season.” - Kevin Patra, NFL Network
Some of the other observations he included were the Bears losing players like Adrian Amos and Jordan Howard. Damian Woody also chimed in, and agreed on the Bears, citing the loss of Vic Fangio as the real headliner. The full video is embedded below if you’re willing to put up with shenanigans.
Everybody is entitled to their own opinion(s). Even when they’re completely wrong.
First, and foremost; either Fox’s grapes have turned extra sour, or his humble pie got burnt in the oven. Let us not forget that Fox went 14-34 as the Bears’ head coach, which netted him 3 consecutive seasons of finishing dead last in the NFC North. From his Jay Cutler vs. Brian Hoyer fiasco of 2016, to his dull and demeaning nature during press conferences, he failed in almost every way you can imagine as a coach.
So what was the one accomplishment he did achieve while in Chicago? He cleaned up a toxic locker room left by Marc Trestman. Because of that, and out of respect, I do not consider John Fox as the worst Bears coach of all time. Just one of the worst.
He’s also seen his former teams find success following his firings from three different franchises.
When he was replaced by Ron Rivera with the Carolina Panthers in 2011, the Panthers were slow to improve at first. However, they eventually gained their footing, and went to the Super Bowl in 2015. Then, when the Denver Broncos fired John Fox after being humiliated by the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, they hired Gary Kubiak as his replacement. They won the Super Bowl the following season.
And, in a pretty extreme form of deja vu, the Chicago Bears posted a 12-4 record while winning the NFC North in 2018. You know, the same Chicago Bears who finished in the basement of the divisional standings the three years prior? That was in just Matt Nagy’s first season as their head coach, earning recognition as the AP’s Coach of the Year for this past season.
Okay, so John Fox took the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl. Cool story. He also lost both of those contests, the later in a depressingly poor manner. The same goes for Jeff Fisher, who coached the Tennessee Titans to a Super Bowl in the 2000 season.
Jeff Fisher, for those needing a refresher, is guilty of steeling his former team’s credit as well. During the season following his firing from the Los Angeles Rams, Fisher was quoted in saying he left the team, “in pretty good shape.” That was despite having one of the league’s worst offenses, and never posting a record better than 7-8-1 in his five years with the organization.
This is a “what have you done for me lately” type of league. Neither of these coaches have done a damn thing since then.
In Jeff Fisher’s defense, at least he’s a hilarious and easy going guy these days. Seriously, go give the former Chicago Bear a follow on Twitter. I’d rather tune in to his stories than re-watch any of the pressers Fox grunted during his stay at Halas Hall. Or anything Fox puts out on ESPN for the matter.
Now, onto making a rebuttal on John Fox’s claims.
Yes, the Bears did lose a couple of notable players in Adrian Amos and Jordan Howard. He saw both of these guys develop since their rookie season, so naturally he’ll be one of their biggest fans. And, it’s not like they were Chris Conte or Garrett Wolfe.
Neither of them are “irreplaceable,” either.
Ryan Pace opted to sign Ha Ha Clinton-Dix as the direct replacement for Adrian Amos. It’s noteworthy that Josh Lucas, who serves as Pace’s director of player personnel and does extensive evaluations on potential targets, mentioned Clinton-Dix having a higher grade as a player in their assessments. To their eyes, they made an upgrade.
Clinton-Dix signed with the Chicago Bears for just over 1/3rd the amount Adrian Amos is set to earn with the Green Bay Packers. The former currently has 14 interceptions and a Pro Bowl in his career. The later, a total of 4 interceptions and no Pro Bowls. Above all else, Chuck Pagano prefers to have safeties of which can be interchangeable in coverage, instead of having a more traditional look with Vic Fangio that has a designated Strong and Free Safety.
Speaking of Chuck Pagano... do John Fox or Damien Woody even know who he is? His career with the Indianapolis Colts did not go as planned. However, his stops in Cleveland, Oakland, and Baltimore inspire more confidence. In his one season as a coordinator in the NFL, his squad in 2011 was ranked 3rd in both yards allowed and points scored against. And, unlike what he experienced in Indianapolis, he’ll have some actual weapons to deploy with the Chicago Bears’ defense.
Oh, did we forget to mention that 10 of the 11 starters from the 2018 Monsters are set to return in 2019? New scheme, sure, yet the chemistry is already present. And, again, the Bears made a potential upgrade at Safety with Clinton-Dix taking the vacancy left by Amos.
Let’s talk about the trade of Jordan Howard for a minute.
I’m on record in saying I did not, and still do not like the move as it stands. I also understand why the Bears made the changes at running back. And, truthfully, I expect newcomer David Montgomery to become an upgrade over Jordan Howard.
This isn’t unlike what John Fox experienced in his own transition at running back. There was this guy, a pretty good guy mind you, in Matt Forte. The Bears decided to move on from him in the 2016 offseason, naming Jeremy Langford his direct successor and drafting Jordan Howard as insurance. Well, Langford didn’t exactly pan out, and Howard took over as the Bears’ lead back by week 4 of that otherwise dreadful season.
Let me be clear on this. Jordan Howard was a good player, and still is an even better person. He’s not to be confused with Matt Forte, who to me is a borderline Hall of Fame player. What reason is there to not expect David Montgomery to find similar success in his rookie season?
There is only one item that I will concede agreement with Fox on. That, obviously is the Kicker position. One that has to be figured out ASAP.
This also feels vaguely familiar...oh yeah. John Fox orchestrated the direct cause to this entire mess at Kicker. Long story short, Robbie Gould was on the Bears’ roster up until the 2016 season. In a move that began the farce of which continues to this day, John Fox and the Bears’ Brass decided to cut Robbie Gould.
Bears fans will point out that it was under Fox’s watch that the team cut Robbie Gould, Chicago’s all-time leader in points, before the 2016 season. It’s true that Gould had struggled the previous couple seasons, but Fox and the rest of the brass weren’t willing to give the veteran the benefit of the doubt. Since then the Bears’ kicking situation has been a turnstile of calamity. - Kevin Patra, NFL Network
The first nominee made as his successor: Connor Barth. In 2017, three different kickers were used, as Barth simply shanked on kick after kick after kick. At least Cody Parkey can hit the freakin’ uprights; Barth’s kicks flew out of the stadium and landed into Lake Michigan. That very 2017 season featured Conner Barth, Cairos Santos (who was injured), and Mike Nugent in their own circus of clowns.
As of today, the Bears have two players competing at the position: Eddy Piñeiro, and Elliot Fry. It remains to be seen what will happen with the contest. Quite frankly, I won’t be surprised if yet another veteran is signed during training camp.
I get it. Boring is bad. Boring doesn’t sell in sport media. Being disgruntled and oblivious to the situation is an entirely new level of pettiness.
What did the Fox say? That is, in terms of reading between the lines? More, or less, that he’s salty about the Bears being a better team without him. I think Dan Hampton speaks for all of us when he mentioned this zinger at the Bears’ 100th Anniversary event this summer, “thank God John Fox’s ass is out of town.” We all look forward to continuing Club Dub with Matt Nagy and company moving forward.