Bears fire head coach John Fox after a 5-11 season
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The Chicago Bears fired John Fox on Monday after three losing seasons, ending one of the least successful coaching stints in team history.
The dismissal came one day after the Bears lost at NFC North champion Minnesota to finish 5-11.
“Today is the tough part of our results-oriented business,” Fox said in a statement.
Chicago has had four consecutive losing seasons — each with 10 or more losses. The Bears haven’t finished above .500 since they let Lovie Smith go following a 10-6 finish in 2012. They haven’t been to the playoffs since 2010.
Fox was 14-34 in his three years with Chicago, a .292 winning percentage that ranks as the second lowest for the Bears. Only Abe Gibron was worse — 11-30-1 (.274) from 1972-74.
Even so, cornerback Prince Amukamara said there were plenty of hugs for Fox when he met with the team Monday.
“Great, passionate coach,” he said. “Didn’t give up on us, didn’t quit on us and that’s very special for a head coach. . One thing we did appreciate about him is he always pointed the thumb and not the finger so he takes all blame, and we love him and I know guys are going to miss him.”
For the next head coach, topping the to-do list will be getting the most out of Mitchell Trubisky. After all, general manager Ryan Pace staked his reputation to the quarterback when he traded up a spot with San Francisco to draft him with the No. 2 overall pick last spring.
Fox is 133-123 in 16 seasons as a head coach and is one of six coaches to lead two teams to Super Bowl appearances, joining Don Shula, Bill Parcells, Dan Reeves, Dick Vermeil and Mike Holmgren.
Fox helped orchestrate quick turnarounds while leading Carolina and Denver to a combined six division titles and seven playoff appearances in 13 years before he took over Chicago in January 2015. But his time with the Bears was forgettable.
Hired shortly after the Bears brought in general manager Ryan Pace, Fox helped restore some of the professionalism that was missing under former GM Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman. The progress in the locker room didn’t translate to victories. And Fox’s conservative approach and some questionable decisions during games were sore spots.
The Bears went from six wins in 2015 to three in 2016 to five. They were 3-15 against the NFC North and dropped all six division games this year.
“I think he built a foundation,” linebacker Sam Acho said. “I think the success that he had here, we’re not going to see until later. Whether I’m on this team or not, I think you’re going to see success in the future.”
Injuries exposing a lack of depth have been a major issue since the regime change.
The Bears have had some big hits in the draft such as star running back Jordan Howard (2016, fifth round) and notable misses such as oft-injured receiver Kevin White (2015, first round). They have had a shaky record in free agency and struggled to replace some key players no longer with the team such as receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, tight end Martellus Bennett and kicker Robbie Gould.
Mike Glennon — signed to take over for Jay Cutler as the starting quarterback — was benched after struggling through the first four games this season. That forced Chicago to go with Trubisky and abandon the plan to use this as sort of a redshirt season for a player with just 13 college starts at North Carolina.
The Bears will need to bring in play-making receivers to complement Trubisky, Howard and running back Tarik Cohen. But they have the makings of a promising defense with end Akiem Hicks, tackle Eddie Goldman and linebacker Leonard Floyd leading the way.
“We’ve got a really bright future here,” receiver Cam Meredith said. “A lot of guys shined this year, especially the younger guys.”