Bears Hire John Fox: Is This a Good Idea?

The Bears have finally pegged their new head coach. Only one week after hiring Ryan Pace as their new GM, the Bears chose John Fox to replace the infamous Marc Trestman. This move does not really come as a surprise. After Fox and the Broncos “mutually parted ways” on Monday, the Bears moved quickly to secure their man. After interviewing Fox on Wednesday, the team pulled the trigger and hired him on Thursday. It’s not hard to see why he was the obvious choice, as Fox has been an effective and winning coach in the past.

Fox holds a 118-89 record (.570) and an 8-7 post season record after coaching the Carolina Panthers from 2002-2010 and the Broncos from 2011-2014. He has gone to a Super Bowl with both teams, but has failed to win the title with either. Fox’s specialty is on the defensive side of the ball. In 2010, Denver was ranked last in team defense. Since Fox took over for the Broncos, the defense has never ranked lower than 19th. In the 9 years Fox coached in Carolina, the defense only ranked in the bottom third of the league once. Those numbers are hard to ignore, especially when the Bears have ranked 29th and 30th the past two seasons.

Fox is a proven winner and a defensive specialist, but is he the right fit for the Bears?

Many people will see the hiring of a proven, defense-first, players coach as a step back. How will Bears keep up in the NFC with a run-first offensive attack? The Seahawks have a very efficient offense that is heavily dependent upon the running skills Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson’s ability to play turnover-free football. Fox has, however, been able to create solid offenses with his time in Carolina. In 2008, which was Fox’s best offensive season in Carolina, the team averaged 7th in points scored and 10th in total yards. That team was led by Jake Delhomme at Quarterback, Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams at Running Back, and Mushin Muhammad and Steve Smith at Wide Receiver. It is feasible to expect that the Bears offense can finish somewhere in the top twelve given the personnel they have. With a new emphasis on running the offense through Matt Forte, and Jay Cutler taking on more of a care taker role for the offense, the team can be great in 2015.

In an interview Monday, former NFL GM and current ESPN Analyst Bill Polian was asked about the type of coach Ryan Pace should hire, and he responded by explaining what he had done in Buffalo and Indianapolis with Marv Levy, Jim Mora and Tony Dungy. He discussed his preference for men with previous head coaching experience. “It’s a matter of a very small degree of difference. I’ve always said all things being equal I’d like to have a guy who had been a head coach before. They’ve been down the road and there is no learning curve. They understand the media duties; they know what needs to be done to improve.”

In other words, one of the most respected team builders in the modern era preferred to hire former NFL head coaches. Some will hate that Ryan Pace and the Bears played it safe. But, what if the safest move was the best for the direction of the franchise? Fox is the right coach to bring the Bears up to a playoff-caliber level. He is a proven winner who has the ability quickly turn a team around. The Bears need a steady hand on the field and in the locker room. He has a successful past and, simply put, he knows how to win. On paper, Ryan Pace looks like he snagged a good one for the Monsters of the Midway.

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How do the Bears Rebuild?

After two tumultuous seasons at the helm, Head Coach Marc Trestman and General Manager Phil Emery have been let go by the Chicago Bears. After a disastrous season filled with reports of distrust and anger, which culminated in a dispute between Offense Coordinator Aaron Kromer and “star” Quarterback Jay Cutler, a change was most readily needed. The Emery-Trestman administration had run its course, ineffectively, in the Windy City. This season, which began with Super Bowl-aspirations, has left fans asking “what now?” Below, I will list a group of potential candidates for the Bears’ head coaching position and give my opinion on who the team should hire and my prediction for who the team will hire. For this list, I have broken down the list into three categories: first-time head coaches, those returning to the head coaching ranks, and college coaches possibly making the jump to the NFL. *Note: These rankings are in alphabetical order.*

*2nd Note: I have strayed away from commenting about the GM situation due to my lack of knowledge on the subject.*”

Fresh Faces

Darrell Bevell:   Bevell is currently Seattle Seahawks’ Offensive Coordinator and former Coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. He interviewed for the Bears’, Cardinals’, and Jaguars’ vacant head coaching jobs in 2012.

Todd Bowles: Bowles helped establish the Arizona Cardinals’ defense into a top 5 unit in 2013 and 2014.

Adam Gase:   Gase is the current Offensive Coordinator for the Denver Broncos and has been in the position since 2013. He is the current front-runner for the 49ers and Falcons vacant head coaching positions.

Pep Hamilton:   Hamilton is the current Offensive Coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts. He has helped mold and elevate Andrew Luck into one of the game’s most elite quarterbacks. He also served as the Bears’ Quarterback Coach from 2007 to 2009.

Dan Quinn:  Quinn is the current Defensive Coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks and has had the position since 2013. He is the architect of the “Legion of Boom” and helped Seattle’s defense lead the league in points allowed (231), yards allowed (4,379) and takeaways (39).

Dave Toub:   Toub is the current Special Teams’ Coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs and held the same position with the Bears from 2004 to 2012. He interviewed for the Bears’ and Dolphins’ head coaching positions in 2012.

Grizzled Veterans 

Jack Del Rio:   Del Rio is the current Defensive Coordinator of the Denver Broncos. He was the Head Coach of the Jaguars from 2003 to 2011. He is the winningest Coach in the franchise’s history.

Gary Kubiak:   Kubiak is the current Offensive Coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens. He was the Head Coach of the Houston Texans from 2006 to 2013. He, like Del Rio, is the winningest Coach in the franchise’s history.

Mike Shanahan:  Shanahan is the former Head Coach of the Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins. He is considered by many to be the front-runner for the Bears’ head coaching job.

College Prospects

Brian Kelly:   Kelly is the current Head Coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He led the team to the 2012 National Championship game. Reports have stated that he is on the out with Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick. Kelly also interviewed for the Eagles job in 2012.

Gary Patterson:   Patterson is the current Head Coach of the TCU Horned Frogs. He has built up the mid-major program into a national powerhouse. He may want to leave for the NFL after the College Selection Committee chose to leave TCU out of the playoffs.

David Shaw:   Shaw is Jim Harbaugh’s replacement at Stanford. He is universally recognized as a great NFL coaching prospect.

My Take I believe that Darrell Bevell is the right fit for the job. He helped Russell Wilson grow into one of the best quarterbacks currently in the game. Since entering the league in 2012, Wilson has 72 passing touchdowns and only 26 interceptions. He averaged more than 3,000 passing yards per season and never threw more than 10 picks. The Seahawks have been in the top five in the league for rushing for the past three seasons. In 2014, Seattle finished 9th in the league in total offense. Bevell has shown that he has not only has the ability to run a potent offense, but he has the ability to maximize his quarterback’s abilities. Whether it is Jay Cutler, a free agent acquisition, or a rookie, the Bears need to get the most out of the QB position. Bevell is the right coach for that task. Unfortunately, I do not believe the team will go in this direction. I feel the Bears’ ownership will go with a proven coach rather than risk placing the franchise in the hands of an unproven leader, like Trestman, again. Mike Shanahan has 169 NFL victories under his belt. He is also a native of Oak Park, IL, and a graduate of Eastern Illinois University. Therefore, I think Shanahan will wind up with the Bears’ job. He is the safest bet on the market and drastically different than his predecessor.