Seven NFL teams hired new coaches this offseason, and John Fox got stuck with the worst of the lot, according to Sports Illustrated.
Football writer Don Banks sized up the teams with new coaches in a story Tuesday and rated the Bears seventh of seven in terms of playoff odds. He gives the Bears just a 10 percent shot at coming away with a postseason berth in the NFC North.
On the plus side, Fox is the most accomplished head coach to take the Bears job since the legendary George Halas opted for his fourth and final stab at running the show in 1958. On the down side, Fox is stuck with Jay Cutler as his starting quarterback, and that scenario didn’t work out too well for Lovie Smith and Marc Trestman, his two predecessors on the Chicago sideline.
With his seven playoff berths in 13 years in Carolina and Denver, including a Super Bowl season in each place, Fox gives the Bears instant credibility. And the hiring of Adam Gase as offensive coordinator pairs Cutler with one of the brighter young minds in the game to work with. Cutler can’t blame his problems on Gase, because he didn’t seem to be the problem in Denver when he had Peyton Manning at quarterback.
The Bears defense was dreadful last year, and it’ll no doubt improve significantly with new coordinator Vic Fangio and Fox on the scene. But getting the defense straightened out still isn’t the most pressing issue in Chicago. Until the Bears can solve the enigma that is Cutler and get consistent play from him, it’s hard to see them closing the gap on the Vikings, Lions or Packers. In the NFC North foursome, Chicago still looks like a club with last-place potential.
As Banks points out, though, a team with a new coach has made the playoffs in each of the last nine years. So, there’s that?
John Fox’s old team, the Denver Broncos, now coached by Gary Kubiak, topped the SI list with a 65 percent chance at making the playoffs.