Why the Bears’ next coach will be different than John Fox

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The Bears fired John Fox on Monday. (AP)

When it came to the Bears’ coaching search, all general manager Ryan Pace would reveal is that he’ll remain in control of the 53-man roster.

Beyond that, Pace wouldn’t confirm any upcoming interviews or disclose how many candidates he’d like to interview. And he also wouldn’t divulge his criteria for his next coach, saying, “I don’t want to paint ourselves in a corner.”


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For Pace, Monday was about giving John Fox the respect he deserved. It was an honorable approach, but it was apparent that it was time to move on.

“He’s a great friend,” Pace said. “I want to thank him for the last three years as our head coach.”

But let’s be clear, the Bears’ next coach will differ plenty from Fox.

Quarterback matters

When rookie Mitch Trubisky took over as the starter, the evaluation of Fox and the team changed. Fox had to prove that he was the best coach for Trubisky, and he failed.

In general, Fox’s overarching influence on the Bears’ game plans frustrated some offensive coaches and also some players.

The Bears’ next coach will be expected to have a better handle on how to develop a young quarterback and win with him.

That’s why offensive minds such as Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur or Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy should be considered leaders in the Bears’ coaching search.

Pace shrugged off concerns that Trubisky’s development would be set back by a coaching change. Pace also is considering having him be a part of the interview process.

“Mitch is a highly intelligent player with a very strong work ethic,” Pace said. “So I’m confident that he’ll adapt quickly to a new situation.”

Mindset matters

Fox endears himself to people, particularly players. Everyone loves “Foxy.” Several Bears referred to him as a “players’ coach” after his dismissal.

It’s a method — or, for Fox, a way of life — that doesn’t always work.

Don’t forget that the Broncos parted ways with Fox in 2014 because general manager John Elway, the Hall of Fame quarterback, didn’t like how his players responded to losses.

Through his leadership council, weekly player speeches and more, Fox helped change the once-toxic culture at Halas Hall after Marc Trestman was fired.

But as the losses mounted, the temperament of the team needed to change. Being a player-friendly coach didn’t work.

Too many players could be found laughing and joking around in the locker room after losses. And too many could be found dancing around in videos on social media.

In some ways, Fox did his job. He helped improve the Bears’ culture. The defense also is better. But similar to how his Broncos run ended, Fox isn’t in charge of what Pace sees as the Bears’ next step.

“Our roster is a little different now than it was three years ago,” Pace said. “There’s different factors involved with where we are as a team right now.’’

Perception matters

Fox lost games on the field and the public-relations fight off it. It started with the mishandling of Kevin White’s injury situation in 2015 and concluded with his two-question news conference in Minneapolis.

Fox’s antics at the dais bothered fans and some inside Halas Hall. He was their everyday spokesman who intentionally decided to be awful at it. He went from being tight-lipped to almost insulting at times.

With every loss, it became an increasingly bad look for the Bears —one that helped spark the #FireFox movement on Twitter. Fans simply got tired of hearing from him.

Asked what didn’t work with Fox, Pace said, “At the end of the day, it’s results on the field, and we just feel we needed a new, fresh voice to get us on the right track.”

Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns.

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

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