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Bears Mon Jan 19 2015

Bears Go Safe With John Fox Selection & That's OK

Chicago BearsPicking a coach was the biggest decision Ryan Pace had to make in his professional life. This was his one and only shot to be a general manager in the NFL. If he fails here, there will be no second chance. That's why when a veteran coach with a long history of success and respect became available, Pace didn't hesitate.

In John Fox, Pace gets a guy that he knows won't be a complete embarrassment. That's already a step ahead of his predecessor, and is a great way for Pace to ensure that he won't get fired in a couple years for making a terrible mistake at such an important spot. Is it the best the Bears could do? Obviously that question can't be answered right now, but it's probably safe to say they could've done better.

Pace was rushed immediately into the Todd Bowles interview with the ink barely dry on his own contract with the Bears. Maybe if he had more time to prepare, or came back around a second time to discuss the job, Bowles might be the coach. It's also possible that Pace didn't want to risk his own backside with someone who had no prior experience. Can you blame him after taking a look at the dumpster fire he inherited?

Fox is a lot like Lovie Smith. Both are defensive-minded conservative-type coaches that have struggled when they don't have a strong coordinator and personnel on offense. But they both completely command their locker rooms and get every ounce of success out of the talent they're presented with. You never question whether or not their teams are ready on Sunday.

One trait that drove fans insane about Smith in Chicago was his "lack of passion" on the sidelines during the game. A fan base that reveres screamers like Mike Ditka, they loathed Smith's cerebral look, possibly because he couldn't back it up with sound decision-making when it came to clock management. Fox is an emotional guy when the cameras and clock are rolling, so he's got a leg up in that regard. But be forewarned that he is a cliché machine during press conferences -- another trait that seems to bother people.

Fox and the Denver Broncos parted ways because he and general manager John Elway differed on how they could take the next step forward. Four years and four playoff appearances that included a run to the Super Bowl last season apparently wasn't enough for a former quarterback that had to lose three Super Bowl's before he took home two at the end of his career -- won largely on the legs of Terrell Davis. They might have even returned to the big game this year if Peyton Manning wasn'

Unless you have a quarterback with the last name of Rodgers, Manning, Wilson, Brees, Brady, or Luck, you need a coach that can lead a team to the playoffs as many times as possible. NFL teams are extremely close together in terms of talent, which means that Super Bowls can be won or lost on five or six plays through a team's playoff run. You have to give yourself more chances by getting to the playoffs as often as possible. Then you have to get lucky. Fox gives you the best chance at multiple playoff appearances in the next five years.

Even if Fox doesn't work out, you wouldn't be able to call his hiring a mistake. He's almost universally loved and respected, and other than Todd Bowles and maybe Rex Ryan, was cleary the best choice to take one of the open head coaching jobs open in the NFL. It isn't a move comparable in any way to Marc Trestman, who nobody considered a top candidate for a coaching job except for Phil Emery.

Fox is a high floor coach. You know what you're going to get, and for the most part, you're going to like it. Better the devil you know than the devil you don't if you're Ryan Pace. He absolutely couldn't afford to screw up his first head coaching hire. And though he didn't try to hit a home run with a new name like Bowles that seems universally liked, he did just fine in getting a guy you're fairly certain will succeed.

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Steve / January 19, 2015 9:16 AM

"But they both completely command their locker rooms and get every ounce of success out of the talent they're presented with. You never question whether or not their teams are ready on Sunday."

Not quite right. The reason that John Fox just got fired is precisely because he wasn't consistent at getting the Broncos ready to go on Sundays. Routinely throughout his tenure they'd fall flat in important games.

That said, I expect that the Bears will improve under Fox. Where his talent lies is in developing young players. His conservative scheme means that players play to their position, not what the other team does week to week. It's a huge help in developing talent, but once that talent is there, you need a coach that can do the scheming part to get you all the way.

Fox will never be the latter. So enjoy him for a few years while he turns the Bears back into a playoff worthy team. But don't be surprised if the Bears have to look elsewhere to get back to the 1985 glory.

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