MINNEAPOLIS — If the first day of the new year is any indication, 2017 will be much more entertaining than 2016 for the Chicago Bears.
While this past season was one of the more boring and disappointing campaigns in recent memory, the season finale took place on a bizarre day that began with Tracy Porter sleeping in and ended with Alshon Jeffery guaranteeing a Super Bowl victory next year.
And in the middle of it all, two Dakota Access Pipeline protesters hung from a support truss inside the beautiful brand new U.S. Bank Stadium, giving themselves a great look at what was otherwise another dismal performance by the Bears as they lost 38-10 to the Vikings.
Naturally, John Fox denied even seeing the two protesters dangling from the east side of the stadium, saying he had “no clue” of what was going on. Bears fans protesting the team’s 3-13 record agreed.
As for Porter sleeping in, it would be hypocritical for me to comment, because I did too. Fox punished Porter by benching him for the first defensive series of the game. He punished me by continuing to be evasive in his post game press conference.
“I think you evaluate everything, our whole season,” when asked about potential changes to his coaching staff.
Does Fox even have final say over his coaching staff?
“I haven’t really gotten into all that ‘final say’ stuff,” he said. “I think when you have people that look at things logically, you usually come to the same conclusion.”
And how is his working relationship with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio?
“I think good. I think about as… I don’t think it’s easy for anybody.”
Meanwhile, down the hall in the Bears’ locker room, Alshon Jeffery had even fewer answers.
Does the impending free agent want to be a Bear next year?
“As of right now, I’m a Chicago Bear. It’s a business at the end of the day. Like I said, I’m a Chicago Bear.
Does he think his free agent market value has changed since last year?
“That’s for Mr. Pace, my agent and you guys to decide.”
If he is a Bear, does he think the team will be better?
“I guarantee you we are going to win the Super Bowl next year.”
So in conclusion: John Fox doesn’t care if he has final say over his coaching staff, Alshon Jeffery thinks the Bears are going to win the Super Bowl next year, and no one saw two protesters hanging over the stadium throughout the majority of the game.
Like most of what is said by the Bears, none of this is believable. And yet, there were a few thoughtful, honest comments made inside the locker room after the conclusion of the Bears’ 3-13 season.
“I have a lot of respect for Coach Fox,” defensive end Akiem Hicks said. “I never saw him in despair. He’s putting together this team, this franchise together, and he wants us to be successful. And he’s fighting tooth and nail to get us to do so. But I never saw any type of quit in his eyes … And to have your leader in the front of the room every day of the week remain in those type of spirits, you can’t help but play hard for the guy.”
It seems unlikely that Fox will be fired, despite the head coach admitting he has not received assurance from the organization that he will return.
“I really haven’t,” he said. “I think at the end of the day, I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ve never worried about job security. And I’m not going to start now.”
It would only be human nature for that thinking to change in 2017, but to his credit, Fox made it clear that he wants to return.
“You start something, you want to finish it,” he said. “I think compared to situations that I was in, chose to leave, this is a job I wanted, and I think a lot of this organization. I think a lot of this city. I think a lot of the tradition of this team.”
That might be the most honest response from Fox all season. Let’s hope it continues in the new year. Here’s to a more exciting 2017.