Bears finish historically bad season with expectations that John Fox stays as coach

Bears finish historically bad season with expectations that John Fox stays as coach

MINNEAPOLIS – First, settling any questions about 2017… .

"I guarantee you we are going to win the Super Bowl next year," wide receiver Alshon Jeffery said after the Bears’ 38-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Of course Jeffery didn’t say who exactly the “we” was that he was referring to, and he is headed toward free agency after his franchise tag expires. But for now he’s a Bear, and he was asked about “this team,” meaning the Bears, so take that as him handicapping his current team’s chances this year.

Now, there’s also the matter of who will coach the Bears to that Super Bowl, but indications continue pointing to that being John Fox.

So, pulling the camera back to take in the much bigger picture after Fox finishing his first two Bears seasons a combined 9-23.

Jay Glazer out at FOX Sports reported before Sunday’s kickoff that Fox would indeed be back in 2017 as Bears head coach. And everything from GM Ryan Pace supports the conclusion reached here over the recent past that the Bears will not be making another coaching change.

Speaking with Bears announcer Jeff Joniak on WBBM radio before the game, Pace was clear that on strategic matters, beyond the obvious disappointments of this season, Fox has gotten the Bears turned around culturally and moving in a direction the organization wants.

“In order to develop these younger players, you really need a coaching staff that’s on board with preparing them and with playing them,” Pace said, “and I think John’s done a good job in leading our team and his staff in assisting that development.

“I also think he’s done a good job of instilling the right culture we want in our locker room, and those aren’t small things. The change of culture, that’s extremely difficult. But I think if you get it right, with the foundation of our roster, you can really build on that.”

Whether a turnaround can come sooner rather than later, “we’re on the right course,” Pace said. “I think you see how quickly teams can flip in this league.”

Fox has been part of the NFL long enough to know that kind, even supportive words are hardly conclusive. But he has said privately that he wants to see this thing through, and he reaffirmed that on Sunday.

“I haven’t, at the end of the day, I’ve never worried about job security and I’m not about to start now,” said Fox, adding, “when you have people who look at things logically, you usually come to the same conclusion.”

And right now, Pace and Fox are looking at the situation with some of the same logic, factoring in franchise direction and player development more than win totals even over a two-season stretch, the first in Fox’s 28-year career that he’s been part of two consecutive losing seasons at any level.

“It’s definitely a job I want to finish,” Fox declared.

Which is precisely what the leaders in his locker room want to hear.

“I love coach Fox,” said defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. “I never saw him in despair. He’s put together this team, wants to see it successful and was fighting tooth and nail to make it successful. We never saw any, ‘Oh, well… .” We never saw that. And when you see that kind of thing from your leader, you can’t help but want to play harder for the guy.

“One of the reasons I felt so welcome here was John Fox’s personality. It was refreshing for a coach to have that swagger, that air around him.”

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Said linebacker Willie Young: “As long as we have the kind of leadership we have in this locker room, we’ll be all right… . There’s a lotta upside here, lotta upside here.”

And finally, some game stuff… . (sorry, have to do it)

The Bears’ 38-10 loss to the Vikings Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium really was neither surprising or likely consequential, beyond securing the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 draft for the Bears. It finished an 0-8 season on the road for the Bears, a venue where decent teams play .500 or better, and it completed the year of futility with seven losses in the eight games since the mid-season off week.

All of which are the kinds of things that comprise elements of a 3-13 season, the worst win total for a 16-game season since the NFL went to 16 in 1978 and matching the second-lowest win total for any season of any length since the franchise was part of beginning professional football in 1920.

The specifics of this Sunday were pretty simple. The Bears turned the football over five times – three Matt Barkley interceptions, a Jeremy Langford fumble, a Bralon Addison muffed punt – to leave them with 14 giveaways in the last three games (five to Washington, four to Green Bay), vs. one takeaway, a meaningless end-zone interception of Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford by cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc.

Turnover ratio, specifically the lack of takeaways, were a season-long problem, but “the last two games it became problematic,” said Fox.

Mike Trout says Browns will win more games than Bears in 2018

Mike Trout says Browns will win more games than Bears in 2018

Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout is quickly becoming an icon in American sports. The two-time American League MVP is enjoying another dominant season batting .335 with 23 home runs and 48 RBI.

On Tuesday, he took a swing at what Bears fans may consider a shocking NFL prediction.

“I’ve got the Browns having a better record than the Bears,” Trout told a radio reporter, according to the Los Angeles Times. Trout's comments were made in response the reporter "talking up" Chicago.

Both the Browns and Bears have had productive offseasons that involved headline-grabbing acquisitions on offense. Cleveland drafted QB Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick, traded for WR Jarvis Landry, signed RB Carlos Hyde and drafted a backfield mate for him in Georgia's Nick Chubb. They added potential lockdown corner Denzel Ward with the fourth overall pick, too. Add all that to a motivated Josh Gordon ready to contribute for a full season, and there's good reason to be excited in Cleveland.

Still, it's hard imagining Trout can be that confident in a team that's won only one game over the last two seasons. And let's not forget what GM Ryan Pace has done this offseason, one that's been praised by analysts from all corners of the NFL universe. From new coach Matt Nagy to free-agent WR Allen Robinson and all the skill players in between, the Bears are ready to make a legitimate run in the NFC North.

Trout doesn't strike out much in the major leagues, but this prediction feels like it could be a back-straining whiff.

Is Matt Forte pushing for a coaching job with the Bears?

Is Matt Forte pushing for a coaching job with the Bears?

Is former Bears star Matt Forte going to be the team’s new running backs coach?

For now, that’s Charles London’s job, who was hired to head coach Matt Nagy’s staff earlier this year.

But on Tuesday night, Forte tweeted that he would like a coaching spot with Chicago sometime in the near future.

Serving as evidence, the now-retired running back responded to a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, which announced the Broncos’ hiring of former linebacker Demarcus Ware as a “pass-rush consultant on a part-time basis.” Forte tweeted at the Bears, saying that he is “available” to take on a similar role to Ware’s new Denver gig.

Forte’s tweet was relatively cryptic, and he never specified exactly what type of job he would want with the Bears. After finishing up a storied career this past season and solidifying his name as a Bears legend, Forte has proven that he could easily coach young running backs or even wide receivers at some point.

But isn’t this all just a joke?

Forte silenced the doubters by tweeting “I wasn’t joking” as a response to an article saying that his desire for a new occupation with the Bears was simply a gag. The former workhorse was also intrigued by a fan’s tweet asking “Coach Forte??”

The mere thought of having Forte back in Chicago with the Bears’ coaching staff sent fans on Twitter into a frenzy. In April, Forte came back to Halas Hall to ink his name on a one-day contract, successfully allowing him to retire as a Bear. Now, Forte wants a lengthier stay in the Windy City.

Ware’s role with Denver is not extensive by any means and, according to Schefter, he will work a pretty scattered schedule with Broncos players. What Forte’s role would look like with the Bears is completely unknown if his plan to coach becomes a reality.

Forte has the running back credentials to take on a coaching position. In eight seasons with the Bears, Forte racked up a combined 8,602 rushing yards, second to only the great Walter Payton. Forte’s 4,116 receiving yards as a running back, 12,718 yards from scrimmage, 24 games with 100 rushing yards and 25 games with at least 150 yards from scrimmage also ranks second behind Payton.

Maybe this will be a new development in Chicago’s offseason plans, but there is no real talk of bringing one of the team’s all-time leading rushers back to the team as of right now.

Last month, NBC Sports Chicago announced Forte will be joining the network as a Bears game day studio analyst for the upcoming 2018 NFL season. And we're not joking about that.