This has never been a hot take blog. It has never been an overly praising or overly doomsday one either. I’ve always believed much of sports lives in a gray area, a world of nuance, a world of maybe. I’ve never denied being a passionate fan of the Chicago Bears and it’s that subjective approach I hope makes this a fun place to be. But I’ve tried to address the club objectively.
Through six games, objectively speaking, John Fox has been a disgrace.
Excluding the Dallas game, wherein the Bears were thoroughly outplayed by a far better team, the Bears have outscored their other five opponents in the first half 51-35. After halftime, where presumably adjustments are made to the game plan, the Bears have been outscored 74-33.
That is a 57 point difference. And that, folks, is a disgrace.
These are not random numbers. These are not flukey statistics. The Bears are lining up with their opponents and displaying they are every bit as good and capable of winning through two quarters. Then the teams go into a room. Talk a bit. Return the field. And the Bears get embarrassed.
The reason isn’t injuries. The same guys are playing both halves. The reason isn’t Brian Hoyer, who is not helping with his dink and dunk approach, but certainly isn’t hurting the team. The reason is the head coach.
Last year, at 0-3, fans were prepared for a dismal season. But the fourth game, home to Oakland, Jay Cutler put the Bears on his back and won a game at the death. The following week, at Arrowhead, Cutler did the same thing. Jay prevented Fox and the Bears from falling into an inescapable 0-5 hole and single-handedly kept the season afloat.
Without Cutler’s heroics, Fox’s flaws are coming to the forefront of this disastrous Chicago Bears season. He is brutal with challenges. He is brutal at crunch time; look no further than the butchering of the final minutes of the first half Sunday which Fox managed to exit point-less but with ALL THREE of his timeouts. He seems to have no feel for where the Bears organization is in their transition, choosing to put tired veterans on the field instead of young potential.
But worse than all of this is how the team withers in the fourth quarter. They are uninspired. They are lethargic. They are resigned to their fate. This football team doesn’t fight for every yard, every point. They don’t play with the kind of passion a team needs to overcome the injuries and the backup quarterback.
Ryan Pace can deny it all he wants, and I’m sure he will deny it publicly, but the Bears have just lost two games they had no business losing. They lost two games to bad teams. And those two wins would have the team 3-3, slowly building back up the enthusiasm of an entire city and fan base.
Pace needs to make a move. Not today, of course, with Green Bay and Minnesota looming. But he needs to make a move for the future of this franchise. If the Bears, as expected, lose these next two divisional battles and fall to 1-7, Pace should move on from John Fox and promote Vic Fangio to head coach. Would this be impulsive? Possibly. Would it be unfair? Potentially. Do I care? Not in the slightest.
The truth is there are a hundred John Foxes out there. There’s no denying his history and success but sometimes guys lose their fastball. When Chuck Pagano and Gus Bradley are outcoaching you, you haven’t lost your fastball. You’ve lost your throwing arm. If the Bears need to find another Fox in January it won’t be very hard because, quite frankly, what unique traits does he bring to the table?
Fangio is not only qualified to be a head coach in this league but he has the temperament and attitude that will play both in the locker room and with the press/fans. (Just go check out his baseball commentary from the last two seasons.) And if Fangio is somehow able to rally the troops and mount a successful second-half campaign, the Bears can entrust the next several years to a guy who’ll be focused on continuing to build a great defense while entrusting the offense, which may include bringing along a young QB, to an offensive coach with autonomy. (Look no further to how Elway handled Denver after exiling Fox.)
This move will also do something the Bears should not underestimate. Moving Fox out for Fangio will infuse Soldier Field with enthusiasm down the stretch. It will send a message that these horrible results against poor opponents will neither be excused nor tolerated.
Will this happen? Unlikely. Pace will not want to admit he got this pivotal decision wrong after only a season and a half. But it’s starting to feel like every day the Bears leave John Fox in charge is another day of a rebuild wasted. Through 22 games of their tenures, Marc Trestman had 11 wins. By December he had 0% chance to keep his job.
Fox shouldn’t get to Election Day.