If John Fox is let go, who should be on Bears’ list to replace him?
The Chicago Sun-Times’ Adam L. Jahns and WGN Radio’s Adam Hoge have co-hosted a Bears podcast since the 2015 season. The “Hoge & Jahns Podcast” can be found on chicago.suntimes.com and wgnradio.com. It’s also available on the WGN Radio app, iTunes and the TuneIn app.
Adam L. Jahns: The Bears are seemingly at a crossroads again with their head coach. That was an awful loss for John Fox against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers. It was disheartening. With seven games remaining, rookie Mitch Trubisky’s success can change Fox’s narrative. But the Bears’ brass needs to be proactive. They need to be prepared for change. At the very least, it’s time to take stock of possible replacements for Fox. Josh McDaniels? Jim Harbaugh? Dave Toub?
Adam Hoge: I take it you’re not a fan of Jon Gruden? As the Patriots’ offensive coordinator, McDaniels is going to be the hottest name. He was too young when he took the Broncos’ job in 2009, and now he has 14 years learning under Bill Belichick. He’s still only 41. That said, McDaniels might want control over the roster. That’s not something he’s going to get here. I’m not sure it’s a great fit.
Jahns: He’s a fit because if you’re prioritizing offensive minds, he must be considered along with Gruden — who is a long shot to leave ESPN — and Harbaugh. Every new coach will surely fight for some roster control, too. Speaking of Harbaugh, I’m not on his bandwagon. He turned Michigan into a winner again, but it’s not because of their offenses. The Wolverines’ quarterback play has been subpar. Everyone also seems to forget that he benefitted from great defenses in San Francisco. Are we sure Vic Fangio wants to work with him again? Does Fangio really want to stay in Chicago?
Hoge: Harbaugh’s results speak for themselves, though. The 49ers were bad before he got there, and they are bad now that he’s gone. But while he was there? Three NFC championship appearances and one Super Bowl appearance. You can’t ignore Harbaugh’s clashes with the front office in San Francisco, but former general manager Trent Baalke shared the bulk of the blame.
Jahns: Fine, Harbaugh stays on the list. But luring him out of Ann Arbor will require the Bears to spend more money than they’d prefer. He’s under contract with Michigan. He’s reportedly making $7 million this season, and that will increase. Before going all-in on Harbaugh, some NFL offensive coordinators should be vetted first: Pat Shurmur (Vikings), Frank Reich (Eagles), Jim Bob Cooter (Lions), Harold Goodwin (Cardinals) and Todd Downing (Raiders). Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin also warrant consideration. And so does Toub, the Bears’ former special-teams coordinator who is now with the Chiefs.
Hoge: Toub should be high on the list. Too many are caught up in the idea of bringing in an offensive head coach. You can’t ignore the other two phases. Look at the Marc Trestman era. Special-teams coordinators work with offensive and defensive players and often aid head coaches with administrative duties. Too many first-time coaches underestimate all the responsibilities of being in charge. Toub is more prepared than most of these young, hot-shot coordinators. He already has deep knowledge of the Bears’ organization and is well respected across the league, which will help him hire quality coordinators.
Jahns: Teams pass over Toub every year. Everyone should be asking why. Figuring that out could be general manager Ryan Pace’s job soon enough. But first, he needs a list. It’s important that the Bears have one ready — call it a plan of attack — if parting ways with Fox is deemed best. Several teams are expected to be looking for new coaches after this season.
Follow Jahns and Hoge on Twitter @adamjahns and @AdamHoge.