Despite his 11-27 record since joining the Chicago Bears, John Fox has put together a relatively successful career as an NFL head coach. He has led teams to two Super Bowls and seven playoff appearances, and has won games quarterbacked by Chris Weinke and Tim Tebow.
But what if the 2017 season turns out to be Fox’s best coaching job?
David Steele of the Sporting News offers up that possibility because he sees the Bears’ talent level as one with no business being on the brink of .500 after eight weeks. The Bears have already reached their win total from 2016 and will have nine chances to surpass that number, starting Sunday against the Saints.
Of the nine games remaining on the Bears’ schedule, six are against teams below them on the most recent release of NFL.com’s power rankings, while three are against teams with worse records than theirs. If Fox can pull this group to a surprising .500 record by season’s end, there could be an argument for this being his best work.
Steele writes that Fox and GM Ryan Pace had earned spots on the hot seat, but back-to-back wins may have cooled things off (for Fox) for the time being. Apparently, the same can’t be said for Pace because of the roster he has put together for Fox’s third season. But to be fair, Fox is receiving a ton of contributions from Pace-drafted players.
Adrian Amos (Pro Football Focus’ third highest-graded safety) was a fifth-round pick in 2015 and the reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Week, Eddie Jackson, was a fourth-round selection in 2017. Starting nose tackle Eddie Goldman was drafted in the second round in 2015, and, of course, running backs Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen and quarterback Mitch Trubisky are leading the offense. There are many more examples than that.
Pace has also stumbled upon some gems in free agency, whether it’s a diamond in the rough like defensive end Akiem Hicks or impact veterans such as linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan, cornerback Prince Amukamara, and guard Josh Sitton.
But isn’t this how it’s supposed to work with the general manager scouting and drafting players for the head coach to put in the best position to win? It’s understandable if Fox and Pace don’t appear to be in sync, but the duo might have a young core leading a group of over-achievers that could possibly have a few more surprise victories in the weeks to come.