He wasn’t there in the beginning of their search, but when the Denver Broncos parted ways with head coach John Fox, the Chicago Bears pounced and landed him as the team’s next head coach.
The Chicago Bears made the announcement Friday afternoon, reporting Fox will be the 15th head coach in franchise history.
Fox, who left Denver after four consecutive AFC West titles and a Super Bowl appearance with the Broncos, checks just about every box that the Bears could possibly want. He has a winning pedigree, with a 46-18 record in Denver and a 119-89 record overall in his coaching career, he is a defensive-minded coach, and most importantly of all, he’s a leader who the team feels is capable of avoiding the type of dissention that plagued the locker room during Marc Trestman’s tenure with the team.
Adding a veteran like Fox to the mix is also going to help ease G.M. Ryan Pace’s transition into his new role with the Bears. Pace has plenty of NFL experience in 14 seasons with the New Orleans Saints, but he’s a rookie general manager and Fox has been around the block a few times. The coach gives Pace an excellent sounding board for ideas, and the working relationship will be key between the two as the Bears look to restructure one of the league’s worst defenses.
In his NFL coaching career, Fox has been a head coach with the Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. He led both teams to the Super Bowl, but failed to win each time as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots took care of business in Super Bowl XXXVIII and then the Seattle Seahawks throttled Fox’s Broncos in last year’s championship game, winning a 43-8 laugher.
Despite those failures, Fox has been known for his ability to turn franchises around quickly. He became only the second coach in NFL history to inherit a team that won only one game and bring them to a championship game, joining Vince Lombardi in that club as he took the Panthers to the Super Bowl in his second year at the helm. The Broncos were a similar rags to riches story, as Fox guided them to the playoffs and then brought them even farther when Peyton Manning joined the team before the 2012 season.
During Fox’s final three years in Denver, the team went 38-10, reaching the playoffs in all three seasons. Even though Fox is a defensive-guru by nature, his offensive coordinators have made the Broncos into one of the best scoring attacks in the league, with Mike McCoy (now head coach of the San Diego Chargers) and Adam Gase (whose name has been bandied about as a candidate for numerous jobs, including the Bears') both skillfully leading the team.
With the Bears, Fox faces a challenge similar to the one he inherited in Charlotte when he joined the Panthers. The Bears are a team in desperate need of an overhaul, and the ownership of the team still wants them to be competitive even as they bring in new talent. That is a tough balancing act to perform, but with Pace at the helm and Fox at the controls, there is a renewed sense of optimism at Halas Hall.