First-and-10: Quick move on John Fox could accelerate Bears’ pace

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After a 31-3 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, the Bears are 3-8 this season and 12-31 in John Fox’s three seasons as the Bears’ head coach. (Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times)

Even considering the cumulative effect of another dreadful Bears season, the call for coach John Fox to be fired immediately after the blowout loss to the Eagles seems a little strong.

As poorly coached and ill-prepared as the Bears looked in the 31-3 defeat, they were playing the hottest and best team in the NFC with a rookie quarterback making his seventh start and a depleted defense missing six Week  1 starters. The Eagles are making everybody look bad — beating the Cowboys by 28, the Broncos by 28 and the 49ers by 23 in their previous three games. Maybe general manager Ryan Pace should wait until his team looks this bad against the 49ers or Bengals to make such a sudden move.


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And what good would it do, anyway? What indications are there that getting a head start would help the Bears pick the right guy? Rushing to the head of the line isn’t always the best move. Striking quickly got them Fox in the first place. The Falcons waited, hired Dan Quinn and went to the Super Bowl.

On the other hand . . .

A recent trend indicates there might be some benefit to making a coaching change before the end of the regular season and getting a head start on the search. In fact, the last eight teams to fire their coach before the end of the season have made the playoffs or currently are headed to this year’s playoffs under their next coach.

The Texans (Bill O’Brien), Raiders (Jack Del Rio) and Dolphins (Adam Gase) have made the playoffs. The Eagles (Doug Pederson), Titans (Mike Mularkey), Jaguars (Doug Marrone), Rams (Sean McVay) and Bills (Sean McDermott) are in position to make it this season. Of the eight, Marrone and Mularkey succeeded fired coaches. The others were hired after the season.

The Rams continue to be the most appealing case history for the Bears. They fired Jeff Fisher — like Fox, a veteran, defensive-minded coach with a Super Bowl appearance on his résumé — and hired 30-year-old Redskins offensive coordinator McVay to develop second-year quarterback Jared Goff.

The key for Pace is whether he already has decided he wants to go that route. The Bears could rally behind Fox in the last five games and provide evidence the arrow is pointing up after all. But if Pace wants his own McVay or Pederson to develop Mitch Trubisky, recent history indicates he’s better off doing it sooner rather than later.

2.A coaching change might be a fait accompli at this point because of the Trubisky-development factor. But if not, Fox’s best hope to survive would be four victories in the last five games — including an NFC North victory against the Lions or Vikings. Beating only the 49ers and Browns, and even the Bengals, isn’t likely to cut it.

And the odds are against Fox in that scenario. Not only has the offense shown sporadic signs of growth at best, but the defense is continuing to wither as injuries take a toll. In their last four games — three without Danny Trevathan — the Bears have dropped from seventh in the NFL in total defense (301 yards per game) to 12th (328) and from sixth in yards allowed per play (4.8) to 14th (5.2).

3.If the Bears do make a coaching change, it’s likely this will be solely Ryan Pace’s decision. Former Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi, hired as a consultant for the GM and coaching search after Phil Emery and Marc Trestman were fired after the 2014 season, helped steer Fox toward the Bears. You’d have to think that after three years on the job, Pace has his own idea of the coach he’d like to hire. If the Bears need a consultant for their next coaching search, they hired the wrong GM.

4.Alshon Jeffery’s eight-yard touchdown reception from Carson Wentz that gave the Eagles a 24-0 lead late in the first half marked the 11th time in Fox’s three seasons the Bears have trailed by 21 points or more. That’s more than one of every four games.

The Bears, by the way, have trailed by 21 points or more 18 times in 75 games since Lovie Smith was fired. They trailed by 21 points or more 14 times in nine seasons (144 regular-season games) under Smith.

5.Kudos to former Bears coach Marc Trestman for winning his third Grey Cup in his first season as coach of the Toronto Argonauts with a come-from-behind 27-24 victory over the Calgary Stampeders. The Argonauts were 5-13 last season.

Trestman went 8-8 and 5-11 in two seasons with the Bears. There’s no secret to his success in the CFL relative to the NFL. There are no Brandon Marshalls, Martellus Bennetts, Jeremiah Ratliffs and Lance Briggses — among the players whose personality and individuality ran over Trestman, tuned him out or otherwise compromised his message and leadership with the Bears — in the CFL.

6.The Bears (3-8) still are sixth in the 2018 draft order behind the Browns (0-11), 49ers (1-10), Giants (2-9), Broncos (3-8) and Colts (3-8). Nobody’s going to catch the Browns, but the Bears still have a shot at the No. 2 pick.

7.In his last four seasons with the Packers, Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton played in all 69 games and 98.6 percent of the snaps. After playing only 15 snaps against the Eagles because of a concussion, Sitton has started and finished 20 of 27 games in two seasons with the Bears and played in 80.8 percent of the offensive snaps.

8.James Washington Watch: The 6-1, 205-pound Oklahoma State senior had six receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown in a 58-17 blowout of Kansas on Saturday. Washington has 69 receptions for 1,423 yards (20.6 average) and 12 touchdowns in 12 games.

9.Josh McCown Ex-Bear of the Week Award: Jets quarterback McCown has won the award so many times, it has been named after him. McCown was 19-for-36 for 307 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions for a 109.4 passer rating in a valiant performance in a 35-27 loss to the NFC South-leading Panthers on Sunday.

That’s his seventh 100-plus rating this season. McCown has a 103.0 rating over his last five games (10 touchdown passes, no interceptions).

10.Bear-ometer: 4-12 — vs. 49ers (L); at Bengals (L); at Lions (L); vs. Browns (W); at Vikings (L).

Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.


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