Chicago Bears head coach John Fox may or may not be on the hot seat, and there might already be some candidates waiting in the wings if the team suffers its third consecutive losing season during his tenure.
However, Fox is still one of the most highly thought of coaches in the NFL.
At least according to Eliott Harrison, who lists Fox as the 12th highest-ranked coach in the league. Fox is one of three NFC North coaches who rank in the top third of this group of power rankings, joining Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers (third), and Mike Zimmer of the Minnesota Vikings (10th). Naturally, Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots sits atop the list.
As for Fox’s ranking, it comes as a bit of a surprise, and not only because of the 9-23 record the team has posted under his watch in Fox’s first two seasons. Despite a pair of sub-par seasons, Harrison believes it would be difficult to rank Fox lower than 12th. Harrison cites Fox’s history coaching seven playoff teams, including two teams that made it to (but ultimately lost) the Super Bowl as a reason for Fox to be ranked as highly as he is in this set of power rankings.
But what about what he has done in his two years with the Bears?
Things haven’t gone as planned in Chicago. When it came to on-the-field matters in Year 2, both sides of the ball didn’t make the kind of progress that we had come to expect based on Fox’s success at previous stops. Off the field, Fox’s coaching staff underwent a significant amount of offseason turnover with several key coaches voluntarily leaving and others let go because their contracts weren’t renewed. Either way, part of a head coach’s main duties is assembling a staff of assistants that will help build up the team’s position groups. Unfortunately, Fox lost several of his better assistants this offseason.
Fox’s teams had a reputation of taking significant strides forward in their second seasons, but that never came to fruition in Chicago, so Year 3 carries an added sense of urgency.
While getting to the
promised land playoffs team’s first non-losing season since 2013 is a tougher hurdle to clear with this group of Bears, there are pieces enough in place with Jordan Howard, the interior of the offensive line, and a pair of potentially fearsome pass rushers to provide a small glimmer of hope for the future. Even still, is that a reason enough for Fox to be ranked higher than Jason Garrett, Jack Del Rio, and Adam Gase – three coaches who led their teams to postseason appearances last year?
In any case, Fox will need to show why he earned that spot with how he handles the 2017 season, which should feature a balance of developing young players for the future and getting the most out of veterans who should be plenty motivated while playing on one-year deals.