Back on March 1, when we were still half a year away from the 2017 regular season, John Fox discussed perhaps his biggest selling point as coach of the Bears: The culture change at Halas Hall.
“The first thing you learn in (the) culture you set is how to compete every day above the line,” Fox said. “Where we have to take the next step is to win and things you have to do to win.”
Fox may have successfully changed what was a toxic culture permeating one of the NFL’s charter franchises in the wake of the Marc Trestman/Phil Emery era. But what he didn’t do was win.
And as expected, the Bears fired him on Monday, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Thanks for it all ! ✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/oop0pmqATN— Tarik Cohen (@TarikCohen) January 1, 2018
With a 14-34 record in three years as the Bears’ head coach, Fox exits his tenure in Chicago with a .292 winning percentage. That’s the second-worst mark in franchise history; only Abe Gibron’s .274 winning percentage from 1972-1974 is worse.
While there certainly were valid obstacles that plenty of coaches would’ve struggled to overcome — Fox frequently said the Bears had to do a lot of “erasing” on their roster before building it back up — that 14-34 record is a defining number. The Bears simply didn’t win enough games, and had too many embarrassing duds to cobble together any semblance of progress.
In 2017 alone, there were two exasperating losses to the Green Bay Packers. The first was the end of the Mike Glennon era; a 35-14 drubbing in front of a national Thursday night audience didn’t reflect well on anyone in the organization. A month and a half later, the Bears — at 3-5 and winners of half their games with Mitchell Trubisky as the starter — welcomed a Packers team without Aaron Rodgers to Soldier Field and fell flat, losing 23-16.
That second Packers loss, as well as dour defeats to the San Francisco 49ers (at home) and Detroit Lions (on the road) all but assured that Fox wouldn’t be back for a fourth year. The Bears’ 23-10 to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday clinched an 0-6 record against the NFC North in Fox’s final season; he finished his time in Chicago with a 3-15 record against division opponents.
The sometimes head-scratching strategy of developing Trubisky, which often didn’t allow the No. 2 overall pick to gain relevant experience during games, likely played a part in this decision as well. Ryan Pace may look to bring in a young, offensive-minded coach to create a pairing more conducive to developing the team’s No. 2 overall draft pick.
But for Fox, it all came down his poor record and a lack of measurable “progress,” to use an operative term from 2017. Fox’s Bears didn’t show much progress, and didn’t win many games.
And now, Pace will begin the monumental task of finding the right coach to not only pair with Trubisky, but restore a winning culture to a franchise that’s missed the playoffs in 10 of the last 11 seasons.