John Fox a nice choice, but he might not be Bears’ savior

SHARE John Fox a nice choice, but he might not be Bears’ savior
SHARE John Fox a nice choice, but he might not be Bears’ savior

You know what they say: If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it must be a duck.

John Fox walks and talks like a coach, and, of course, he was one, and he is one again. Your brand new Bears leader, folks, hot off the rails from Denver, where he was the Broncos’ coach as recently as seven days ago — John (no middle name) Fox!

Thirteen years of NFL head-coaching success for the man who will turn 60 next month. Hoo-rah.

Chicago rejoices.

Indeed, to say anything bad or even dubious about Fox right now in this town is to risk cries of ‘‘Traitor,’’ ‘‘Know-nothing’’ and ‘‘Villain’’ and possibly to be shunned like Hester Prynne in old-school Boston. (No, not Devin Hester!)

Risking such, I just want to say that maybe Fox isn’t perfect. Maybe, that’s all. Nor can I think of anyone better at the moment to take the spot of Marc Trestman, who leaves after a 5-11 season.

Plus, it’s crazy but true that the Bears have not hired a head coach who had actually been one before since George Halas hung up the whistle in 1967. It has been almost a half-century of former offensive or defensive coordinators or special-teams coaches, etc.

Everybody who came along since Halas had his training wheels removed while at work. Learn on the job! The Bears way!

No more. So bully for that.

I guess.

Because it doesn’t mean that former assistant coaches can’t make good NFL head coaches, just that the Bears couldn’t find one who could do it. (Names of former assistants such as Bill Parcells, Mike Holmgren, Jon Gruden and Tom Coughlin come to mind here.)

So let’s get away from groupthink for a moment — that is, Bears fans’ and management’s certitude du jour that a veteran coach who has been to two Super Bowls, winning neither, is a stroke of pure genius. (May I remind you that Lovie Smith, who took the Bears to a Super Bowl and had a final season of 10-6, was run out of town so that the professorial Trestman could go 13-19 in two seasons.)

It is possible, you know — and don’t stone me for simply mentioning it — that Fox is here to chill and run out the skein on a nice, if unspectacular, career. Five more years, and he’s got Medicare, baby!

But we’ll assume he really wants to win and is as fired up as he said he was Monday. What kind of coach does his track record say he is?

It says he’s a fairly mellow, bland guy who will bore you to death at news conferences and show that much pizzazz on the field. He’s good at defense, and he’s known as a players’ coach. But he has never made it all the way to the top.

And there might be a reason for that. You are aware that Broncos GM John Elway, a tightly wound guy, brought Fox and other team members in this past season and ripped them all new ones for not giving total effort? It happened. You’re also aware that Elway thought he gave Fox as talented a roster as any in the NFL the last three years, topped off with Peyton Manning?

And what happened?

‘‘Three in a row, disastrous finishes to seasons,’’ said Les Shapiro, a longtime Denver sports broadcaster who was the first person to warn this scribe about the deficiencies of Broncos-to-Bears quarterback Jay Cutler six years ago.

‘‘He’ll improve your defense; he’ll get better use out of Matt Forte. But you’ll get no creativity out of John Fox. He doesn’t adjust well in games, and he gets outcoached most of the time.

‘‘He did not run crisp practices here, and his speeches before games were not inspirational. He coaches no-risk football, plays not to lose. The 2011 season, with Tim Tebow at quarterback, a guy who couldn’t throw — we’ll give Fox that. He did a great job with an 8-8 team, winning a playoff game. But he took a knee before the half in a playoff game with Manning as his quarterback with three timeouts in his pocket.

‘‘He drove Elway crazy because he didn’t hold himself, the players or coaches accountable after losses. He’ll be an improvement in Chicago, but he won’t win a Super Bowl.’’

No, this isn’t gospel. Nor am I a prophet. Nor is Shapiro.

Just trying to tell it like it might be.


Twitter: @ricktelander

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