Blind Bear Finds a Fox
Chicago does the hiring process right, thanks to a a little luck.
Guest Contributor Robert Cascarano | mail@3PSMag.com
As the saying typically goes, “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.” Well, in Chicago, the blind Bear found a Fox.
On January 19th, the Chicago Bears formally introduced John Fox as the 15th head coach in franchise history. Given the historic lows to which this team sunk in 2014, it’s not an exaggeration to suggest this was the most significant head coaching vacancy the Bears have ever had to fill.
Yet, with such a critical decision at hand, there was no reason to believe the organization could get it right (at least not intentionally). After all, this is a team who only once before hired a head coach with previous experience in the role, and that was when George Halas re-hired himself in 1958. As names like Todd Bowles, Teryl Austin and Dan Quinn surfaced, this expedition seemed destined to conclude with the Bears hiring another under-experienced captain to try and right the ship.
Suddenly, John Fox became available, and as Bears new General Manager Ryan Pace said: “The game changed.”
Thank goodness the game changed, because the Bears may have actually done it right this time. Not because the George McCaskey/Ted Phillips brain trust had a clear strategic plan. Rather, it was because John Elway and John Fox couldn’t see eye-to-eye. So instead of giving praise to the Bears for pulling this off, fans should instead give thanks to the Broncos Vice President and GM for ‘mutually’ parting ways with one of the game’s best head coaches.
I liken this to the 2000 draft when the Bears sat at the #9 spot, coveting two players: Virginia running back Thomas Jones and Michigan State wide receiver Plaxico Burress. When the Bears picked at #9 their top two targets had been taken off the board (Jones to Arizona and Burress to Pittsburgh). The Bears were forced to “settle” for their third choice, a defensive back from New Mexico named Brian Urlacher.
While credit should be given to Bears brass for aggressively pursuing Fox ounce he became available, they’ve never demonstrated the competence to deliberately make a significant franchise-improving move like this. Fox, like Urlacher simply fell into their lap, despite their plan.
Now that they have received such a gift, McCaskey and Phillips face a greater challenge, which is to not interfere! As Chairman McCaskey stated in a recent interview: “Now that we’ve got the GM and Head Coach in place, my job is to stay the hell out of the way let these guys do their jobs.” If that’s the blueprint McCaskey follows, Bears’ fans should feel reassured.
Fox brings a level of experience and credentials to Halas Hall that none of his predecessors ever possessed. Most recently, he produced a 46-18 record over four seasons in Denver, winning the AFC West each of those years (including his 1st year with Tim Tebow at Quarterback). His name is along-side legends like Don Shula, Dan Reeves, Bill Parcells, Mike Holmgren, and Dick Vermeil as the only six head coaches to lead two different teams to the Super Bowl.
In addition to a proven track record, Fox has the clout to attract top-notch assistant coaches to serve on his staff. He has already begun that phase with by adding of Vic Fangio as Defensive Coordinator. Fangio led a 49ers defense that dominated opponents under his control, ranking in the top 5 each year that he was Coordinator. More importantly for Bears fans, the 49ers went 4-0 against Green Bay while Fangio was there. One person who worked with Fangio in San Francisco and knows Chicago said, “Bears fans will love Vic, excellent coach and an even better guy.”
Fox then parlayed the Fangio hire by securing Adam Gase as his Offensive Coordinator. Gase served under Fox in Denver from 2011 – 12 as the Quarterbacks’ coach and 2013 – 14 as the Offensive Coordinator, being an instrumental part to the Bronco’s historical offensive output of 2013. Gase also spent a year as Brandon Marshall’s Wide Receiver coach in Denver.
Less than thirty days ago the Bears were being led by the NFLs version of Moe, Larry and Curly (Marc Trestman, Aaron Kromer and Mel Tucker). Today, pundits can honestly say the Bears have one of the most potent staffs in the league.
Fox certainly has his work cut out for him by turning around a dismal team that suffered a train-wreck of a season in 2014. That said, he’s done it before and certainly has a better chance to do in Chicago than any other candidate the Bears had in mind.
Regardless of how the Bears landed Fox, they did. Call in dumb luck, which it certainly was, but we’ve all heard the phrase about being lucky as opposed to good.
In his press conference, Fox said his job is “like holding jello.” With that analogy, Coach Fox immediately connected to Bears fans everywhere, because that’s what it’s been like for them to try and hold onto hope that the team may actually become a legitimate NFL contender.