MINNEAPOLIS — The John Fox era couldn’t have ended any other way.
After his Bears were throttled by the Vikings 23-10 in their season finale Sunday, the Bears’ coach, tight-lipped about any question of consequence for three seasons, chose not to answer one more. Or two.
“Look, I’m here — the league makes me be here to talk about this game, and that’s what we’ll keep it to,” he said after his opening statement. “Anything after that, we’ll keep you posted. Any other questions?’’
When someone asked another question about his future, Fox groused, “I can repeat what I just said if you need me to.”
No one asked about the game — his 34th loss in 48 tries — and Fox walked off the podium after a grand total of 77 seconds, headed to the team plane and then the inevitable. Fox is expected to be fired by midday Monday, leaving general manager Ryan Pace, whose job is presumably safe, to embark on the search for an offensive mind to develop quarterback Mitch Trubisky into a franchise cornerstone.
Fox told players after the game how proud he was of them, Trubisky said, and that they knew how to find him if they ever needed anything. Asked if it felt like a farewell, Trubisky said people could twist that detail any way they wanted.
Still., Fox sounded like a coach who knew his fate.
Cornerback Prince Amukamara had seen two head coaches fired in previous stops and admitted that it felt like the Bears were headed in that direction. Fox’s speech felt more final.
“The tone was a little different,” Amukamara said. “A little emotional.”
Trubisky said Fox had “exactly what you want out of a head coach, someone who’s always got your back, no matter what, through thick and thin and just loves you for who you are.”
A new coach won’t solve the Bears’ problems, receiver Josh Bellamy said.
“We might go get another coach and go 0-16. . . .’’ he said. “It’s the players that have to change the culture.”
While the Bears attempted to rebuild their roster with younger players during Fox’s three seasons, they failed to gain much traction, finishing 3-13 last year and 5-11 this season. Fox did not have a winning record at any point with the Bears. The only days he was .500 were when he was 0-0. He won three games against NFC North opponents in 18 tries.
The Bears will try to find a coach, likely with an offensive bent who can grow with their young roster. They can interview candidates who aren’t in the playoffs early this week and must fly to the home cities of assistants whose teams have a first-round playoff bye before Sunday.
“I think there’s a good culture in that locker room, there’s good guys,” Fox said in his opening statement, before eschewing questions about his future. “Obviously, we need some pieces added.
“And really, to every one of them, everybody in there, there will be better days moving forward.”
Fox won’t be here to see them, though.
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.