Less than a week from Black Monday, Bears coach John Fox not surprisingly resorted to his stock answer when asked about dealing with speculation that he’ll be fired after the Bears complete a third consecutive season with double-digit losses Sunday against the Vikings.
“I don’t worry about it. I’ve never had trouble getting employment in this league, and I’m not going to start worrying about it now,” said Fox, who is 14-33 (.298) as Bears coach.
“It’s not my first rodeo, you know. I’ve been doing this for  years and  as a head coach, so this is par for the course in this league. I think there’s a lot of different speculation every year, and this year is no different.”
And so begins an awkward final week of the regular season at Halas Hall. Not even Mitch Trubisky’s development will supercede the subject of Fox’s likely dismissal. The Vikings game isn’t likely to impact anything but draft order. Discussing the future seems fruitless and pointless with a coach who isn’t likely to be here in 2018. The game can’t get here quickly enough.
Fox, who has one year left on his contract, would not say if he has talked with general manager Ryan Pace about his future.
“If I did, I wouldn’t talk about it [publicly],” Fox said. “Those things are for the offseason. That’s always been my approach every season, and that won’t change, either.”
Despite the several rodeos Fox has been a part of, the scenario in Chicago still is new territory for him. This is the first stop where he has not had any success in his first three seasons — not even a winning season.
In Carolina, he saw the writing on the wall when the Panthers didn’t extend his contract in 2008 and knew he was gone as a dreadful 2-14 season ensued in the final year of his deal.
In Denver, Fox had differences with owner John Elway that didn’t come to a head until after a 24-13 loss to the Colts at home as a 9½-point favorite in a divisional playoff game in the 2014 postseason. The two sides officially mutually agreed to part the next day.
In Carolina, the Panthers were headed toward a rebuild after a mostly successful nine-year run under Fox that included three playoff appearances and a berth in Super Bowl XXXVIII. In Denver, the Broncos were 46-18 in four seasons under Fox, won a playoff game with Tim Tebow at quarterback and reached Super Bowl XLVIII.
Fox’s likely demise in Chicago comes with the arrow pointing at least slightly up compared to when he arrived — and a number of plausibly extenuating circumstances. The roster was short on playmakers and depth. Injuries have taken a particular toll the last two seasons. And the Mike Glennon/Trubisky quarterback scenario overall was a hindrance.
“Injuries are a part of every season,” Fox said. “When you look at teams that have better records than others, the successful ones have been fortunate in that department really all the way through the Super Bowl.”
A rebuild that included a significant roster teardown (including the loss of offensive stars Brandon Marshall, Martellus Bennett, Matt Forte and eventually Jay Cutler) has progressed slowly. But Fox made it clear he believes the Bears are ready to contend for the playoffs.
“Has it been easy? I’d say no,” Fox said when asked if this was a bigger rebuild than he thought. “We’ve gone from the oldest roster in football to one of the younger ones. We’ve got a good, young, talented roster. We still have holes. But at least, to me, we’re on a level playing field now.”
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