John Fox won’t go quietly into that good night.
A month after being fired, the Chicago Bears head coach is speaking out about the “mess” he inherited when he accepted the job in Chicago. His only regret is not being able to see things through, now that the team finally has a young franchise quarterback to lead the way.
“It would’ve been nice to see it through,” Fox said to NBC Sports Chicago. “That’s kind of a bitter pill but you sort things out and move forward. I do think it’s closer than people think. We inherited a mess… but I felt we were on the brink at the end. I think that [Halas Hall] building is definitely different; they feel it. I do think that it was a positive. …You wish some things would’ve happened differently obviously, but there was a lot positive that happened.”
No one can argue the fact that Fox inherited a mess.
There aren’t many coaches in the league capable of winning with no receivers and a revolving door of Jay Cutler, Jimmy Clausen, Matt Barkley and Brian Hoyer at quarterback. Fox was doomed before the ink dried on his contract.
However, no one expected a mediocre head coach to be successful taking on one of the greatest renovation projects in the NFL. His 14-24 run with the Bears was a combination of bad coaching and equally bad personnel decisions.
The turnaround was never coming as long as Fox was on the sidelines wearing the headset. If the Bears had any faith in him, they would have kept him around long enough to at least consider bringing him back for a fourth year, but they kicked him to the curb right after the final game of the season. There was nothing in Fox’s three-year tenure that would have convinced anyone in the front office to give him another chance.
Bears fans certainly weren’t about to sit around and watch Mitchell Trubisky hand the ball off 30 times a game in 2018. His development in the NFL is dependent on the right coaching, and although newly-hired head coach Matt Nagy is in his first year on the job, he’s the better offensive-minded coach.
The combination of Nagy and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio could change the culture in the locker room for a Bears team that hasn’t had a winning record in six years. Fox might have inherited a terrible situation, but he also couldn’t win more than six games. The Bears only won three games in 2016.
There was enough blame to go around but not enough to save Fox’s job. The team was headed off a cliff with him behind the wheel, and it might have been an even bigger mess if no one stepped in to rectify the situation.
This is one bitter pill Fox should just swallow and keep on moving.