John Fox

John Fox says Bears had worst offseason in the NFL

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ESPN

John Fox says Bears had worst offseason in the NFL

John Fox is now more than a year removed from his tenure with the Chicago Bears, but he still has some strong opinions about the team.

Fox, now an NFL analyst for ESPN, fired a shot at the Bears during a segment of NFL Live on Monday. Fox was among a panel asked which team had the worst offseason in the NFL. Fox chose his former employer.

"I think when you're going to play defense, you're going to lean on your takeaways to help a young offense and you don't have a kicker, a reliable kicker that you're going to need those points from after some of those turnovers," Fox said. "I think the kicking question is really big right now in Chicago and I think that might be a problem going into the season."

That is sure to earn some eyerolls from skeptical Bears fans who weren't happy with Fox's 14-34 record with the Bears.

Fox wasn't the only one to pick the Bears. Damien Woody, who won two Super Bowls with the Patriots as part of his 12-year career, actually picked the Bears before Fox.

"I think losing Vic Fangio... is huge," Woody said. "That Chicago Bears defense, it literally fueled their offense. It's the identity of the Bears and when you lose a talented defensive coordinator like that, I think there's going to be some slippage there."

 

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'Grizzly' worst-to-first specialist Bobby Massie wants to stay a Bear

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USA TODAY

'Grizzly' worst-to-first specialist Bobby Massie wants to stay a Bear

Bobbie Massie went through down times--both as a Bear and before that--over four years as an Arizona Cardinal. He is at the end of the three-year contract that brought him to Chicago, and the time is coming for him (and the Bears) to determine whether he is a Bear or headed to become something else.

Massie has already made that determination.

“I’m a Bear. Grizzly as hell,” Massie said, laughing. “I am a Bear through and through.”

Massie still spends some offseason time back in Phoenix, training at LeCharles Bentley’s “LB O-Line Performance” facility, but “[Chicago is] a place I call home. This is my home. I would love to be back here.

“We’ve built something. I’ve been lucky enough to be part of a culture change, and it’s like night and day from when I first walked through the door to now. It’s an amazing thing to see, just to see players who’ve grown so much. I’ve had a chance to see Mitch [Trubisky] grow from day one to now. It’s just amazing.

“I am invested. I’ll just keep playing, doing my job and the rest’ll take care of itself.”

It has so far for Massie, who knows something about turnarounds like the one in process for the 2018 Bears. If anything, he could be excused for wondering why it took so long.

The Bears right tackle was drafted in 2012, into what would be Ken Whisenhunt’s last year as Arizona head coach, the Cardinals finishing 5-11. After suffering through that, he was part of the turnaround under Bruce Arians to get their record 10-6, then to 11-5 and a wild card postseason berth in 2014, and finally 13-3 and the NFC Championship game in 2015.

After that the Bears enticed him to Chicago with a three-year deal for $18 million, of which $6.5 million was guaranteed. The Bears were coming off a 6-10 first year under John Fox, improving by one victory over Marc Trestman’s final year, and Massie was part of a free-agency sweep that netted Massie, Jerrell Freeman, Akiem Hicks and Danny Trevathan, plus draft picks Leonard Floyd and Cody Whitehair and Jordan Howard – all players from winning programs.

The result instead was a colossal spiral downwards sparked by quarterback injuries, all cascading into 2017 and a deepening quarterback quagmire in the form of Mike Glennon. The tumbling led to the firing of two-time turnaround engineer Fox.

Massie had seen the turnaround impact possible with the right coaching hire, when the Cardinals went from Whisenhunt to Arians. He has seen it, and been part of it, again in the Fox-to-Nagy course correction.

“Fox was obviously defensive-minded and this thing was built around defense,” Massie said. “Nagy came in and if you really look at it, it’s the same team, just a few pieces here and there. No drastic changes, just little things.”

He paused, then laughed: “Maybe a little more passing.

“But it’s fun again. Guys here love coming to work, practicing to get better. And considering how long we’ve been going – we were the first team to start camp – we’re still hungry.”

 

Mitchell Trubisky establishing durability standard; Bears not quite taking shots back at John Fox

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USA TODAY

Mitchell Trubisky establishing durability standard; Bears not quite taking shots back at John Fox

Probably bad luck to mention this:

Mitchell Trubisky’s start last Sunday against the Detroit Lions was his 21st in a row, passing Jay Cutler (20) on the list of most consecutive starts by a Bears quarterback in the past 40 years. Among quarterbacks since George Halas retired, Trubisky can pass Vince Evans’ 26 (1980-81) and match Jim Harbaugh’s 28 (1991-92) if he starts the remaining 2018 games, but will need next season to catch Bob Avellini’s 42 (1975-78).

*                          *                          *

If there was an underlying frustration in the wake of John Fox being ousted as Bears coach, it might best be described as a shadow of disappointment at what might have been. Or should have been.

“This may sound weird,” said left tackle Charles Leno, “but with the guys we had last year, moving on to this year, you knew the culture was changing. We just had to click. We have got a great group of guys in here, I'm talking all across the defense, all across the special teams. Great group of guys. We just needed an extra push.

“Matt [Nagy] brought this.”

Leno is qualified to render an opinion. He has been through three head coaches in five NFL seasons, drafted under Marc Trestman, becoming a starter under Fox, and then came this year under Matt Nagy. Meaning: Leno was inside Halas Hall when the organizational culture plummeted under an offensive coach, started to improve under a defensive coach, then stalled and now has undergone a culture re-launch.

Whether the culture has changed with winning, or the winning is a reflection of the change in culture is largely academic to a team that is 6-3 after a second three-game win streak in its season. But the winning has produced – and resulted from – a buy-in that was absent on the offense under Dowell Loggains the past two seasons.

“We got the right head guy in here,” Trubisky said. “Coach Nagy is definitely leading the charge and we just have the right guys in our locker room to change the culture around.

“Just the belief and the trust in each other and coming to work every day, putting the work in and then just going and executing it on Sunday to be able to produce wins. It's a great vibe around the building now. The culture has definitely changed and there's a better vibe around the city in how people view the Bears and how they see us.

*                          *                          *

So-what award?

How much Trubisky knows about Georgetown coaching legend John Thompson, or the poetry of Rudyard Kipling, is difficult to pick up in a press conference. But the young quarterback subscribes to some of their thinking.

Thompson placed zero stock in awards that were voted on, vs. something that was won. Kipling’s poem “If” offered a guide to some level-headed thinking, famously noting that:

“If you can keep your head when all about you
         Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
         But make allowance for their doubting too… .

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
         And treat those two impostors just the same…

…you’ll be a Man (or NFL quarterback), my son.”

Trubisky on Wednesday was awarded the honor of NFC offensive player of the week, the week after he was roundly ripped by certain national NFL writers. He wasn’t particularly fazed by the negative and he wasn’t especially interested in the positive, either.

“I don’t know, really,” Trubisky said. “You get recognized, it’s cool, but people talked so bad about me last week, so why should this week be any different?

“So I got recognized for playing well."