The results-based business of the NFL caught up to John Fox when the Bears relieved the head coach of his duties Monday, according to two people with knowledge of the situation who requested anonymity because the team did not immediately announce the news. The long-expected move ended Fox’s three-year oversight of a rebuilding effort that has failed to produce gains in the standings. With a 14-34 record after Sunday’s season-ending loss to the Vikings, his .292 winning percentage is the second-worst of any coach in franchise history, ahead of only Abe Gibron (.274 from 1972-74). General manager Ryan Pace will immediately begin the upcoming coaching search, guided by his deep-rooted belief in the importance of quality quarterback play. The plan is to conduct a thorough search that includes coaches in the NFL and college. Pace will center the search on offensive strategists who can maximize the development of quarterback Mitch Trubisky, two people with knowledge of the situation said. The Bears will begin interviewing candidates this week. NFL rules permit first interviews through Jan. 7 with assistant coaches on playoff teams that have a first-round bye. Assistants for teams that win their respective wild-card games may participate in first interviews during the week of the divisional round (Jan. 8-14). Assistants for teams that missed the postseason can interview anytime after receiving permission from their employer. Pace remains at the GM post where he has amassed the same record as Fox since they both were hired in January 2015. He maintains control of the 53-man roster, a dynamic that will help shape the pool of coaching candidates. The Bears jettisoned Fox after their fourth consecutive last-place finish and third on his watch. No coach in franchise history has survived three straight losing seasons; Fox is the fourth to meet such a fate. With him as coach, they were 3-15 against NFC North opponents and 8-19 in games decided by eight or fewer points. His job status was in question from the outset of this season, which was the penultimate year of the four-year contract he signed in 2015. Now, the Bears will seek the 16th coach in franchise history and their fourth since 2012. Fox and Pace were on different timelines from the start, which is one reason why the GM operated with more job security amid the disappointing results on the field. Pace signed a five-year contract before he hired Fox to the four-year deal. Pace’s aggressive and secretive move last offseason to trade up to draft Trubisky second overall further differentiated his timeline from Fox’s. Trubisky started 12 games as a rookie and steadily improved, flashing the potential to develop into an accurate, athletic pocket-passer.
Bears fire John Fox
Chicago Tribune | Jan 1