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.