When the Bears hire their next coach, they better make sure he knows what it takes to win.
When looking at the 10 active head coaches with the highest winning percentage and 10 who lasted three years or fewer in their head coaching stints, the difference was clear. Of the 10 coaches with the highest winning percentages:
Out of the 10 coaches who flamed out quickly, the best had won 14 more games than he lost and only two had previously won Super Bowls.
Two coaches that make this study a bit more inexact are Pete Carroll and Andy Reid. Carroll had six years as a defensive coordinator, going 49-47 and he was 33-31 as an NFL head coach prior to coming to Seattle. But his work at USC was exemplary, going 97-19 with two championships. Reid is the only coach in the top 10 who had no experience as a coordinator, but he was part of the great Green Bay Packers teams of the mid 90s, where he won a Super Bowl. Any way you slice it, you’re looking at two coaches who had quite a bit of success before they hit it big with their current teams.
Spent all day Monday reaching out to every single contact I have in the NFL. All four of ’em. Why? Because I was angry, frustrated, tired of writing about a losing team…etc. I figured I could only spend so much time yelling at my cats about the Bears’ misuse of Tarik Cohen so I might as well use the energy for good. Here’s what I know.
(None of this is based on guesswork. This is stuff I was actually told.)
(1) There is a roughly .01% chance of John Fox being the coach on January 2nd 2018. Ryan Pace will hire his replacement.
(2) There was consideration given to firing John Fox after the Green Bay game but ownership/Pace don’t believe there’s a good interim option on the staff. This includes Vic Fangio who, I’m told, would not be super keen on the assignment and has turned down extension offers from the team to stay on as defensive coordinator.
(3) George McCaskey idolizes how the Giants and Steelers are run and has decided to emulate their approach. He does not want to fire a coach in-season. This does not mean he would never do it. But, honestly, emulating the Giants and Steelers is never a bad thing, folks.
(4) If Fox loses this week to the 49ers, don’t be surprised if his tenure ends Monday morning. If he loses to the Browns on Christmas Eve, he won’t coach the finale. I don’t know why so much emphasis is being put on two meaningless games against awful opponents, other than their being at home, but that’s what I was told.
The Bears might have a new coach next year. Or they might not. Who the heck knows, but it’s never too early to start looking at some of the candidates.
At this point, I’m assuming Ryan Pace will still be the GM. If that’s the case, I don’t see either Josh McDaniels or Jim Harbaugh being an option. And, truth is, I’m not sure either is that great of an option, anyway. McDaniels didn’t just fail in Denver, he completely flamed out. I question Harbaugh’s sanity and if he’s actually a good offensive coach.
Editor’s Note: I think Andrew is nuts and also think Harbaugh is the second best football coach in the country.
I didn’t include college coaches because they almost all just leverage the NFL to get pay raises. The ones who do ultimately come to the league typically aren’t any good.
It’s entirely possible Fox will be back for the last year of his contract, so he’s included in this list. So are many of the usual suspects. As many would guess, I gave preference to offensive coaches because I want no part of a defensive coach handling Mitch Trubisky unless he has a proven offensive coordinator coming with him. I had a hard time pairing the top defensive coordinators with offensive guys who fit that description.
Here’s the list:
You hear it all the time, mostly from panicked fans tired of losing.
“WE NEED TO REBUILD!”
In the NFL that term has very little meaning. Teams that are rebuilding have one of two distinct characteristics: no head coach or no quarterback. Just look at the twenty teams not in the postseason this year.
New York Jets – neither, Buffalo Bills – no QB/possibly no coach, Miami Dolphins – jury out, Cleveland Browns – no QB, Tennessee Titans – no QB, Houston Texans – no QB, Jacksonville Jaguars – jury out, Oakland Raiders – no coach, Kansas City Chiefs – borderline playoff team/extremely limited QB, San Diego Chargers – borderline playoff team/jury out on coach.
New York Giants – football’s all time anomaly, Philadelphia Eagles – won 10 games, Washington Redskins – neither, Chicago Bears – no coach/possibly no QB, Minnesota Vikings – jury out, San Francisco 49ers – no coach/possibly no QB, St Louis Rams – no QB, Atlanta Falcons – no coach, Tampa Bay Bucs – neither, New Orleans Saints – who knows what happened there.
Rebuilding in the NFL means bringing a young quarterback along and putting as much talent around him as possible. This is far easier to do when the coach leading the way has a track record of success.
Not a single team in the non-contenders category is confident in their coach and quarterback. The Giants and Saints, the two franchises not in the playoffs with Super Bowl winning coaches and quarterbacks, enter every season with one definitive goal: another Super Bowl title. The three teams with both in place NOT in the postseason, Philly, KC and SD, will be right on the cusp of the postseason every year. (I’m crediting Philly with having a QB because I believe they have multiple characters capable of executing Chip’s system successfully.)
The Bears have a top running back, top tight end, two top receivers, a couple of top offensive linemen and some young & veteran talent spread across their defense. But their quarterback position is now a significant question mark.
Putting a head coach in place who has never been a head coach and pairing him in the years to come with a quarterback who has never been a professional quarterback is not a recipe for long-term success. It is a recipe for becoming the Jacksonville Jaguars. The historical track record of getting this combination right is not even in the same zip code as good.