Payton Presser: The John Fox experience is over
Well fans, the 2017 Bears season is finally over. What a ride it has been. Last night, I watched the new Dave Chappelle Netflix special. In the beginning, he told the audience how good he was at delivering punchlines. He proceeded to give the punchline first before giving them the payoff about 5 minutes later. Sitting on my couch at home, I saw the punchline coming from a mile away. In some ways it was similar to me seeing the ending of the John Fox era here in Chicago. The writing was on the wall even before the 2017 season started.
Last year’s draft showed me that Ryan Pace was thinking about building for the future and not investing big money in free agents. It’s funny to think about the feeling I had back in 2015 when Fox got the job. Jay Cutler was still in the fold and the feeling was Fox was the man who could turn things around in a hurry. Fox and Pace both came into a situation that needed more work than they expected. Pace revamped the whole roster for various reason. So with all that being said, Fox was left to manufacture wins with a relatively young roster. That was a tough task for the veteran coach.
Fox isn’t without blame in this big equation. The signs of an undisciplined team really started to show their head after the bye week against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers. The Bears showed signs of being unprepared and, for a team that couldn’t afford mistakes, this team was creating a lot of them. After Sunday’s 23-10 loss, the Bears ended the season with a 5-11 record. From the tweets I’ve received and the conversation with fans, they are frustrated and have a right to be. This season the Bears were 0-6 against NFC North opponents. That just won’t cut it. But I have to credit Fox on leaving the locker room better then how he found it back in 2015. He has set a foundation for the next coach that takes over.
The time is now to make sure that Mitchell Trubisky has the right coach and staff around him to flourish as the franchise signal caller. Now the pressure is on Pace and the organization to get this next coaching decision right. One of the biggest storylines this season was watching the progression of Trubisky. The rookie finished the season with 2,015 passing yards, seven TD passes, seven interceptions, with a completion percentage of 59.9. I stand by my early evaluation of Trubisky: I think he can be special. But it’s all about who can bring the best out of him over the next couple of years. Most want year-two success like Carson Wentz and Jared Goff. It’s obtainable, but Trubisky will also need more playmakers on the offensive side of the ball as well. The adding of playmakers doesn’t just stop with the offense. This whole Bears roster needs an influx of straight-up ballplayers.
You didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that change was coming at the end of the season. When it came down to it, the situation here in Chicago wasn’t suited for Fox. To me, there seemed to be a disconnect with Fox and Pace ever since the Combine in Indy. That could explain some of the struggles over the last few years. The NFL is a results-based business and Fox finished his time here in Chicago with a 14-34 record. The blame isn’t all Fox’s for the poor performance over the last 3 seasons. Let’s not forget Pace carries the same win-lose record as the guy he came into the organization with. Pace extended his stay here in Chicago with moving up and selecting Trubiksy in last year’s draft. If Pace’s clock started when Trubisky stepped on the field this season, then it’s vital he selects the right guy to take over and bring the Bears back to respectability. It has been tough being the brunt of so many jokes over the last few years. As Bears fans, we deserve better. Speaking of jokes, I’m just hoping the payoff comes sooner then we all expect. I also hope we can look back on the Trestman and Fox eras of Bears football and laugh about it like, “Look how far we’ve come.” Beardown.