Chicago Bears: Why John Fox is fired no matter what

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Even if the Chicago Bears surprised everyone and contended for the playoffs this year, they still have to move on from John Fox.

Before I get started here, I must say that I’m loath to rain on the positive vibes from the Chicago Bears surprising two-game win streak. And truthfully, that’s not the point of what I’ll be trying to say here.

For one thing, we haven’t gotten to enjoy many win streaks in the John Fox era. As such, Bears fans should take a moment to revel in their current success and the hope that maybe, just maybe, this team has a surprise playoff run in it.

And regardless of whether the Bears make the playoffs or not, they have most definitely shown improvement. Most notably, several of Ryan Pace’s draft picks have made huge impacts of late, giving fans further hope of the future.

But even though all of that is true, I still believe that the Chicago Bears will never contend for a championship as long as they are coached by Fox.

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Because while this “winning ugly” style works for now, it won’t work forever. And it won’t help Mitch Trubisky‘s development, which is now this franchise’s ultimate concern.

So, no matter what happens, I expect the Bears to have a new head coach coming into next season.

Behind the Times

As nice as this current 3-4 campaign feels as opposed to what we expected, let’s not lose sight of what Fox is as a coach and why he likely won’t be here when this team is a real contender.

Specifically, the Bears should fear the effect that such an approach could have on Trubisky, the most important player on the roster in the immediate and distant future.

Can he learn what he can and can’t do at the NFL level with a coach who seems terrified to find that out himself?

Now, obviously, Fox’s job is, first and foremost, to win football games. So I can understand, to a point, why he’d kick a field goal from the half-yard line instead of going for it with a 14-3 lead. Or why he didn’t care about throwing the football as long as his defense kept the clamps on the Panthers.

Risk-averse does not always equal bad.

But with a young quarterback trying to hopefully reshape this franchise’s history, keeping Fox as a coach may not be in Trubisky’s best interests.

Trubisky, after all, is not Tim Tebow. He can actually throw the football. And while he still needs to learn how to read the field quickly and show better pocket presence, he has all the tools to run a real NFL offense.

But instead, the Chicago Bears have adopted an offensive strategy tailored toward Fox’s love of playing not to lose.

They refuse to play their best wide receiver, Kendall Wright, because they want Tanner Gentry and multiple huge tight ends in to block for thoroughly predictable Jordan Howard outside zones all game.

They run their receivers off into oblivion rather than scheming routes open.

And they completely forgot about play-action against the Panthers for some reason, despite running Howard 21 times.

Another fun fact: Trubisky’s number of pass attempts have dropped by nine with each start.

Before we know it, he’ll actually be attempting a negative number of passes in a game. Then again, if that were possible, I’m sure Fox would delight in trying to win that way.

Sure Don’t Mind a Change…

Well, hey, maybe Fox will loosen up once Trubisky has a full year of experience and some better receivers. Perhaps the Chicago Bears could bank on that and bring him back for the last year of his deal?

Not so fast.

In only five of his sixteen seasons as a head coach has a Fox-led team been in the top half of the league in pass attempts. Three of those seasons were with Peyton Manning, so that doesn’t really count. And in seven of his seasons as head coach, Fox teams attempted the fifth-fewest passes in the league or less.

How can you develop a rookie quarterback into a star under those circumstances?

And on the flip side, we’ve seen what it looks like when the Jeff Fishers of the world get replaced by the Sean McVays who actually know how to work with a young quarterback.

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Fox has shown the Bears what to expect from him and has little incentive to change. And I don’t think Pace will look at that body of work and believe Fox can lead the Bears to a title.

They just cut bait with a long-time quarterback for that reason and got a new one to lead the franchise. Even if this team keeps exceeding expectations, why wouldn’t they do the same if Fox doesn’t serve that goal?

This is Pace’s show. He got his quarterback. Now, let’s see how he handles handpicking his coach.