INDIANAPOLIS — Insisting he left the Bears stronger than he found them, John Fox said that they’re more than a couple moves away from getting to where they want to be.
“I think it’s better off than when I got there,” Fox said Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Did it get to where I would have liked it to have been? No. That’s frustrating. But I think we made headway.
‘‘With about six or seven good personnel decisions, I think that’s kind of where they are.”
Fox said the key will be to surround quarterback Mitch Trubisky with talent, specifically receivers and offensive linemen.
“I really expect him to have a bright, bright future,” Fox said. “He can’t do it by himself. No quarterback can.”
RELATED STORIES Northwestern running back Justin Jackson holds his own at NFL combine Bears’ Jordan Howard promises playoffs, but sports guarantees have lost power
Fox was fired Jan. 1 after his third losing season in three years. He hinted that playing and developing Trubisky, whom general manager Ryan Pace drafted No. 2 overall in April, gave the coach little room for error in a season in which his job security hinged on wins and losses.
“There was a guy in Philadelphia that said it best: ‘Coach, the [Eagles staff] here came in and they took Carson Wentz in their first year. You guys took Mitch Trubisky in your third year,’ ” Fox said. “I think that kind of defines it.”
He demurred when asked if he should have been assured more time, given that Pace drafted a quarterback before that fateful third season.
“I just try to control the controllables,” he said.
Fox has mostly remained out of the public eye this offseason. He refused questions about his future minutes after the Bears’ season-ending loss to the Vikings.
Attending his 29th combine, Fox appeared with Panthers tight end Greg Olsen and Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer as part of a league-sponsored panel discussion broadcast on satellite radio.
He said he took pride in the Bears’ defense: “We put a lot of work into that over three years.”
He told a Bears fan that the team is closer to success than some think.
“Obviously, it’s a bitter pill to not be able to be part of that team you invested three years in, but that’s the way this league goes,” he said. “I get it. You take responsibility — 6-10, 3-13 and 5-11 — sometimes that’s not going to work out for you. I get that.”
Fox, who turned 63 last month, said he doesn’t miss the 6 a.m. wake-up calls, but he isn’t ready to retire from football, either.
“I gotta do something,” he said.
He has had discussions about working as a television analyst this upcoming season, ironic given his insistence upon vague answers in news conferences. Former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who sparred with reporters, agreed to a similar television job during his brief retirement last year.
Fox said that he remains interested in becoming a front-office executive. With the exception of a one-year stint as the Rams’ personnel consultant in 1996, he has coached in the NFL every season since 1989, when he started his pro career as a defensive backs coach for the Steelers. He spent the last 16 seasons as the coach of the Panthers, Broncos and Bears, who are paying him $4 million, the amount remaining in the final year of his four-year contract.
Fox wouldn’t close the door to working with a team next season.
“It depends kind of on what shakes out,” Fox said.
He then smiled.
“I’m being paid pretty good to do nothing,” he said.
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.