John Fox has coached in the NFL for 23 seasons, but will never be confused with an offensive guru. He spent seven years as a defensive coordinator, picking up experience with the Giants and Raiders (in both Los Angeles and Oakland) before his 16-year run as a head coach with a focus on excellence on the defensive side of the ball.
But this isn’t to say Fox hasn’t contributed to the advancement of what happens when his team’s up to bat.
After the Chicago Bears beat the Carolina Panthers on Sunday despite receiving minimal contributions from rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky, Fox was asked to take a trip in a time machine to re-visit a similar performance. That’s when Fox unearthed a most intriguing nugget of information.
“We didn’t get much credit for this, but we kind of invented the Wildcat,” Fox recalled. “We didn’t call it “Wildcat,” we called it ‘Memphis’ and ‘Tiger.'”
The Miami Dolphins receive much of the credit for making the Wildcat a thing in the NFL back in 2008, using it to pick apart the New England Patriots. Miami’s offensive coordinator at the time was Dan Henning – who was Carolina’s offensive coordinator back in 2006.
Isn’t it fun when the dots connect?
You see, DeAngelo Williams, who played his college ball for the University of Memphis Tigers, turned out to be the inspiration for innovation. Let’s go back to December 24, 2006 where Williams and DeShaun Foster combined for 49 carries and 184 rushing yards in a game where running backs were lining up at quarterback. Meanwhile, Chris Weinke – a 34-year-old quarterback in what would be his final season with Carolina – completed 4 of 7 passes for 32 yards and a touchdown in a 10-3 win against the Atlanta Falcons. You can check out that box score here.
Fox chalked it up to doing what was necessary to win that particular game, much like he did after the Bears’ win against the Panthers. Hopefully, Trubisky’s pro career turns out better than that of Weinke, who didn’t do much after winning the Heisman Trophy in 2000.