Chicago sports media is divided on the subject: To hire John Fox or not to?
That is the question Bears general manager Ryan Pace is surely asking himself Wednesday, too, as he interviews the ex-Broncos coach at Halas Hall.
Here’s five reasons Pace needs to hire Fox … and five reasons he should run from that decision.
The case for Fox:
1. Experience. Fox’s resume makes him a smart choice. He climbed the coaching ranks the right way, earned his place as an NFL head coach and has stayed there for 13 years. He’s been to two Super Bowls. What more could a prospective team want?
2. Rebuilder. Fox took a Panthers team that won one game and made them a playoff team two years later. That’s exactly the sort of turnaround the Bears could use. Only Vince Lombardi, Bill Parcells and Fox have orchestrated the same sort of turnaround.
3. Defensive. Fox came up the coaching ranks as a secondary coach and defensive coordinator in New York before getting his first head coaching job with Carolina. The Bears have been historically synonymous with strong defenses, and Fox could be a return to that mindset. Marc Trestman, who replaced Lovie Smith, was a break from that tradition.
4. Head coach. The Chicago Bears have never hired a head coach with previous experience as an NFL head coach. With just five playoff appearances since 1991, perhaps it’s time to stop looking for the next big thing and buy a known quantity. His experience as a head coach might also give Fox the tools he needs to deal with the personalities inside the Bears’ locker room — something Trestman was often criticized for lacking.
5. Winner. Fox owns a 119-89 career regular season record and is 8-7 in the postseason. He’s won two conference championships and six division championships. The Broncos went 46-18 during his four years there, which John Elway deemed insufficient when he fired him this week.
The case against Fox:
1. Age. Why give the reins to a 59-year-old head coach when you’ve just started rebranding the franchise around young whippersnapper Ryan Pace? Hire the up-and-coming coordinator and shoot for the moon.
2. Expensive. Fox’s win-loss record and experience will command a massive payday. Why pay top dollar for a middle-of-the-road NFL coach when you can hire someone younger — and maybe better — for less?
3. Bad in-game coaching. Fox has been criticized more than once for his in-game management. The Broncos lost to the Ravens in overtime of a divisional playoff in 2013, and Fox was questioned for months about his decision to take a knee and head to overtime rather than let star quarterback Peyton Manning drive the field with 30 seconds left. He was also criticized this week after the loss to the Colts for “playing not to lose.”
4. Unenthused. Fox says he wants to keep coaching, but a “lack of fire” was part of the reason John Elway decided to part ways with his coach after a 13-4 season. “It’s disappointing that we didn’t have more fire,” Elway said. “I don’t know why we didn’t have more fire. It’s hard to explain. It’s always difficult coming off byes.” The last thing the Bears need is a coach that is just going through the motions.
5. Relationship with Pace. I’ll let Hub do the talking here: “What will Fox and the 37-year-old Pace have in common besides football? Is Pace looking for a second father and Fox adopting another son? What’s going to happen the first time the young buck has to tell the wizened old coach he’s wrong and he’s going to do it his way? And what happens if that starts to happen a lot?” All fair questions.
Vegas seems to think that if Fox coaches again, it will be for the Bears. As of Tuesday, Fox was a 1-to-2 favorite to be Chicago’s next coach, per MyTopSportsbooks.com.