I can’t think of the last time I wrote that, thought that, dreamt that or was forced, under threat of torture, to say that.
But bravo, indeed.
The Bears have hired John Fox, a veteran head coach who has been to the Super Bowl with two different teams. Savor that last sentence the way you might a warm breeze.
For those of you who have followed this franchise for any length of time and might not be familiar with the term, “veteran’’ means “experienced,’’ “having done the job before’’ and “not Dave Wannstedt, Dick Jauron, Lovie Smith or Marc Trestman.’’ That’s in the dictionary. Look it up.
In Fox, the Bears get a head coach who has seen and done just about everything in the NFL. He helped turn around the Panthers, taking them to the Super Bowl in 2003. He helped turn around the Broncos, last season’s Super Bowl runner-up. Now he’ll use his callouses to try to turn around the immovable object known as the Bears.
This is a franchise that has been allergic to filling head-coaching vacancies with anyone other than former coordinators or assistant coaches. Mike Ditka aside, that approach hasn’t produced many winners. The team needed someone who had done the job before. It needed someone who could work with new general manager Ryan Pace and fix a truly sad defense. It needed someone who could take command in meetings. It needed someone to undo the mess left behind by Trestman and Phil Emery, Pace’s predecessor.
And here is Fox to, if not save the day, at least usher in a new day for the organization. Bravo to Pace and to, ahem, the “group effort’’ of which he said he’d be a part. I’m not sure if that means congratulating chairman George McCaskey and president Ted Phillips for being involved in the decision or for staying out of it.
Now, you might argue that the Bears did what any team would do when presented with a gift from above. But they have repeatedly done the wrong thing over the years. Let’s not take points away from them for doing the obvious. Let’s laud them for doing the right thing. Perhaps with some positive reinforcement, they’ll start doing the right thing regularly.
Fox is not perfect. It wasn’t hard to read between the lines of what Broncos vice president John Elway said the day after he fired him earlier this week: The coach doesn’t want to win a Super Bowl as badly as the VP does.
Is there truth to that? I don’t know. But Elway did have to read the riot act to Fox and the rest of the Broncos’ coaching staff at midseason. The game plans on both sides of the ball were unimaginative. And there were concerns that players were not being held accountable for poor play. If that sounds a little too much like Trestman, well, just remind yourself that Fox has a 119-89 regular-season record, that the Broncos won their division all four years he was their head coach and that he managed to get to the playoffs with Tim Tebow as quarterback.
But all of this talk of Super Bowl fire and passion is beside the point. For Bears fans, worrying about whether Fox wants to win a championship is like worrying about whether Kate Upton snores. Let’s just watch him get a 5-11 team right.
He emphasizes defense and running the ball, which could reduce the negative impact of Jay Cutler, should the quarterback be forced down the new coach’s throat like spoiled milk.
McCaskey talks about winning Super Bowls, which is what any owner is supposed to talk about. But the truth is that Fox is here to right a ship that has been doing a sidestroke for the better part of two seasons. That’s it. We’ll worry about the rest of it in a few years.
Let’s not lose sight of what McCaskey has allowed to happen here. By hiring a veteran head coach, he has done what his family has been averse to doing for decades. The McCaskeys move at the speed of mobility scooters, so what occurred Friday was monumental. Assuming there was no meddling from Phillips, it means that Pace was allowed to bring in the coach he wanted. But in the end, that really doesn’t matter either. The Bears hired the coach they should have hired.
This also is a victory for all of you who demanded that the team bring in a veteran coach and a general manager with no ties to the organization. It’s impossible to know how much of an impact that had, of course, but the team isn’t deaf. Bravo.