John Fox

John Fox Plans To Continue Coaching

John Fox was ousted from his job in Chicago, but he’s hoping to stay in the NFL. Fox says that he is waiting for the dust to settle on various head coaching jobs to see if he can join someone’s staff (Twitter link via Mike Klis of 9NEWS). John Fox (vertical)

Fox was a defensive assistant for many years before he became the head coach of the Panthers in 2002. All in all, he has spent the last 16 seasons as an NFL HC, but it’s unlikely that he will get another crack at running his own show this offseason. His connections and defensive acumen could get him a DC job, however.

As shown on PFR’s Defensive Coordinator Tracker, the Ravens and Packers are the only team with active searches at this time. More spots may open up for Fox once the Cardinals, Lions, and other teams decide on a head coach.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Extend GM Ryan Pace Through 2021

On the heels of firing head coach John Fox this morning, the Bears have decided to extend general manager Ryan Pace through the 2021 campaign, team president and CEO Ted Phillips told reporters (Twitter link). Ryan Pace

Pace’s original deal was set to expire at the end of the 2019 campaign. With the two-year extension, Pace will likely be on the same contract length as the head coach he will bring in.

Pace joined the Bears in 2015 following a 14-year run with the Saints as a scout and director of player personnel. At 37 years old at the time of his hiring, the Texas native was the youngest general manager in the NFL.

Phillips commented on bring back Pace, saying, “He’s earned the opportunity to see his plan to fruition.”

Under Pace’s direction, the Bears traded up one spot in the 2016 NFL Draft to nab North Carolina product Mitch Trubisky. Before pulling the trigger on that deal, he made an interesting decision to sign Mike Glennon to a three-year $45 MM deal. Glennon started just four games in 2017 before he was replaced by the rookie.

During his press conference, Pace hinted that Trubisky would be involved in the head-coaching interview process. “That’s definitely something we’re going to look into,” he said. The Bears are expected to hire an offensive-minded coach but Pace says the team has not submitted any requests to interview current coaches.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Fire Head Coach John Fox

After three losing seasons, the Bears have fired head coach John Fox, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (Twitter link). John Fox (vertical)

Rapoport also noted (Twitter link) that the team will look at offensive-minded coaches to work with first-round pick Mitch Trubisky, while defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will also be a candidate.

The Bears finished in last place in the NFC North in each of Fox’s three seasons with the team. In 2016, Chicago finished with a 3-13 record, its worst finish since 1969 (1-13). His .292 winning percentage is the second worst in franchise history behind Abe Gibron‘s .274 mark in the early 1970s.

Fox joined the Bears in 2015 following a productive four-year run in Denver, in which he led the Broncos to a 46-18 mark and advanced to the Super Bowl in his third season. Before joining Denver, Fox spent nine seasons as head coach in Carolina, where he led the team to its first Super Bowl appearance in just his second season on the job.

The Bears are expected to begin interviewing candidates this week and the coaching search is said to include names from the college ranks. Since the departure of Lovie Smith in 2012, the Bears have not had a winning campaign and will now be on their third coach in six seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Breer’s Latest: Black Monday Preview

With the final week of the NFL’s regular season approaching, that only means two things; 12 teams will soon be focusing on reaching the Super Bowl, while the rest will start to look ahead to next season. One major part of looking forward is addressing who on the coaching staff will be returning in 2018. Many of these coaching questions are answered on the day following Week’s 17 conclusion, conveniently called “Black Monday”.

Veteran reporter Albert of Breer of Sports Illustrated, gave a preview of the coaches he expects to stay and the ones that will likely be shown the door in his most recent column. Breer ranked the potential firings as “Likely/Done”, “We’ll See”, and “It’s Complicated”. In total, there were 15 head coaches mentioned who could see their situations change starting next week.

Here’s a quick look at Breer’s takes on some of the league’s hottest coaching questions:

  • There were five head coaches included in the “likely/done” category including: BearsJohn Fox, BengalsMarvin Lewis, LionsJim Caldwell, ColtsChuck Pagano and and the Giants‘ interim coach Steve Spagnuolo. The four full-time head coaches on this list have all had their fair share of success in the league. In fact, three of them led their current teams to multiple playoff appearances during their tenure. However, Caldwell and Lewis have been unable to win a postseason game with Pagano and Fox having failed at continuing the past success they have shown during their careers in football. Breer notes that while the “expectation is that Fox will be gone”, the decision on the fate of general manager Ryan Pace is true question facing the franchise this offseason. There’s been rapid speculation about Lewis, Caldwell and Pagano throughout the year, so their inclusion on this list is no surprise. Finally, the Giants are currently interviewing general manager candidates who will almost certainly be looking to lead their own head coaching search once hired.
  • Breer puts six current head coaches in the ‘we’ll see” part of the list. This portion mentions the CardinalsBruce Arians, BroncosVance Joseph, RaidersJack Del Rio, BuccaneersDirk Koetter, TitansMike Mularkey and the RedskinsJay Gruden. There’s a variety of situations going on here with Breer noting that Arizona could see Arians retire, which could lead them to other current NFL head coaches: Todd Bowles and Bill O’Brien. Del Rio and Gruden have had their fair share of success because of quality quarterback play, but both have managed to decrease confidence because of an inconsistent 2017 season. However, Breer points out that both are signed long-term so their owners would have to eat the remaining years of their current deals. Mularkey and Koetter were rewarded for the relationships they formed with their QB’s, but there’s been disappointment with how this season has unfolded for their teams. Breer notes that should Mularkey lose this Sunday, he could be on the chopping block come Monday morning with the team looking to hire an offensive-minded coach like Josh McDaniels. Finally, Joseph has forced himself to the hot seat even in his first year of coaching the Broncos, though Breer says himself that this situation is “unpredictable” given that team president John Elway is just “not pleased with how the season’s gone”.
  • Browns head coach Hue Jackson, and the two previously mentioned O’Brien and Bowles of the Texans and Jets, find themselves on the “it’s complicated” section of Breer’s roundup largely because of just the many factors are at play in regards to their situations. Jackson got a vote of confidence from owner Jimmy Haslam himself, but new general manager John Dorsey could have his sights on implementing his own guy after a winless season. O’Brien has made the playoffs before, but has struggled committing to a QB even after the team selected Deshaun Watson in the first round. Bowles has done a lot with a little in New York this season, but ownership could go in a different direction with a new starting signal caller likely walking into the building next year. Also, there is the potential that all three coaches could move onto new head coaching gigs with the number of openings that could be available this offseason. The final and definitely most surprising inclusion on this list was Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, who Breer mentions could retire at age 66 with a roster about to see major turnover in the next few years. Although, I would venture that nothing he’s said this season would indicate that being the case.

North Notes: Browns, Bears, Fox, Vikings

New Browns general manager John Dorsey has a plan to turn around the winless Cleveland franchise, and given the club’s lackluster history with quarterbacks, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Dorsey’s first order of business will be finding a long-term answer under center, as Pat McManamon of ESPN.com writes.

“This is a quarterback-driven league,” Dorsey said Friday. “We all know that, and we all know to succeed and go a little bit further and further and further that you need one of those guys.

“I want to understand from a coaching perspective how they see [quarterbacks],” Dorsey said. “I want to see how the personnel staff sees it. I want to sit down with the head coach and see how he sees it. Let’s begin to build a plan moving forward and identify.”

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • While the Bears are currently putting together a winning performance against the Bengals, most observers believe Chicago’s coaching staff will be let go following the conclusion of the regular season, and that’s the feeling within the building as well, according to Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (video link). Not only has Bears head coach John Fox “accepted his fate” and recognized that he’ll likely be fired once the 2017 campaign ends, but many Chicago assistants are cognizant that they’ll be let go, too. At present, the Bears are last in the NFC North with a record of 3-9.
  • Pat Shurmur is generating “a ton of interest” as a head coaching candidate, so the Vikings could soon be searching for a new offensive coordinator, per Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com. Shurmur has head coaching experience, as he lead the Browns from 2011-12 and also served as the Eagles’ interim head coach at the tail end of the 2015 season. Running an offense with journeyman Case Keenum under center, Shurmur has led Minnesota to a No. 8 ranking in offensive DVOA, so it’s no surprise that other teams around the NFL have taken notice of his efforts.
  • Despite previous reports that Lions head coach Jim Caldwell recently signed a contract extension, his deal in fact only runs through the 2018 campaign (with an option for 2019). Therefore, Caldwell’s pact likely won’t play any role in whether Detroit general manager Bob Quinn retains Caldwell after the current season.

NFC Notes: 49ers, Bears, Lions, Saints

The 49ers considered Mitch Trubisky with the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft before deciding to trade the pick to the Bears, who ended up selecting the North Carolina product, coach Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco.

“I really liked Mitchell. He was really the only guy I flew out and saw. I spent some time with Mitchell and got to work him out. I spent a few hours watching tape with him,” Shanahan said.

“But that wasn’t something we were going to do with our pick. We felt like we had to go a lot of other different directions. Our goal was to add picks and get as many players as possible, and we are happy with what we did.”

Instead of taking the quarterback, San Francisco traded back one spot with Chicago and picked up the team’s first-, third- and fourth-round picks in 2017, and the team’s third-round pick in 2018. Interesting to note, that third-round pick was traded to the Saints, who tabbed breakout running back and Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate Alvin Kamara.

Shanahan will get to see Trubisky up close on Sunday when the Niners travel to take on the Bears.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Sticking with the Bears and 49ers theme; Shanahan also said he was interested in hiring Chicago defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. A well-respected and longtime NFL coach, Fangio could be a candidate to replace John Fox in Chicago, should the coach be let go in the coming weeks. “I think Vic definitely deserves to be [a head coach]. He’s one of the coaches I’ve respected the most, just from going against him,” Shanahan said.
  • Though Fangio is an option, the Bears are likely to invest in an offensive coach to groom Trubisky, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Leading the list, of course, is Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel, who always seems to be atop everyone’s wish list.
  • Lions head coach Jim Caldwell should be safe if the team finishes 10-6, even if the team misses the playoffs writes ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. He added that he expects Caldwell will return as head coach as of right now, but that could change in the coming weeks. Caldwell has managed two winning campaigns in his first three seasons in Detroit, or the same amount the Lions produced in the 14 years prior to his arrival.
  • The Saints will not use their remaining IR-to-return spot, writes Joel A. Erickson of the New Orleans Advocate. The hope was that tackle Zach Strief would be an option to return, but that shelved after he underwent to repair his ACL and MCL two weeks ago. No other players on IR have a time table that would allow them to return.

NFC Notes: 49ers, Fox, Reed, Fisher

It was a long awaited day for 49ers fans, as they got their first look at newly acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in today’s loss to the Seahawks. The former Pats backup signal caller got into the game because rookie starter C.J. Beathard was forced to exit with an injury. Garoppolo made good use of his mild playing time, throwing a nice touchdown pass as time expired.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan chose not to shed much light on how he’s thinking about the QB position moving forward. Although, he did mention that Beathard’s leg injury was not too serious, reports Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). While Beathard’s injury does not appear to affect his playing status moving forward, he will get additional testing tomorrow. Nevertheless, it’s notable that Shanahan wouldn’t commit to a starter for Week 13 either way, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee (Twitter link). However, Barrows did also tweet that the 49ers coach didn’t think about pulling his rookie starter while he was healthy.

It’ll be a tough decision considering the way Garoppolo played when he entered the game and the high pick the front office gave up to get him. Shanahan hasn’t caved into public pressure as of yet, so it’s a decision that seems to remain truly up in the air.

  • If the Bears fire John Fox this offseason, Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com believes that Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo should be considered for the job. DeFilippo would be an out-of-the-box hire since he is not a coordinator, but the feeling in Philadelphia is that no one has been more instrumental in Carson Wentz‘s development than the 39-year-old. It’s possible that DeFilippo could be the guy to help rookie QB Mitch Trubisky reach his full potential. And, with anywhere from 7-10 teams potentially looking for a new head coach this offseason, DeFilippo can be expected to draw some interest.
  • Redskins star tight end Jordan Reed has missed a lot of time in 2017 and looks to miss another game in Week 13, according to John Keim of ESPN.com. Keim notes that Reed didn’t practice or do any side running today as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury. Coach Jay Gruden confirmed that Reed would be held out for the next few days as well. “We’re going to take off that part of it here for a couple days, see where he’s at,” Gruden said. While there will still be some time for Reed to get on the field after, it’s tough to expect him to heal quick enough to be effective in game action considering his past injury problems.
  • With the Rams surging to an 8-3 record under first-year head coach Sean McVay, a lot of criticism has been tossed at former head coach Jeff Fisher for the way he handled the offense. Fisher appeared on the Amazon show All or Nothing over this past summer and expressed desire to get back on the sideline for the 2018-19 season. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk opines that despite Fisher’s recent track record, he does bring a ton of experience in the game and has the skills to impress in the interview room. Florio hears that his name has already “bubbled up” for coaching jobs, so there’s some potential for interest to come from the NFL as well. They’ll also be a number of coaching jobs open, both head coach and as a coordinator. It’ll be a tough sell considering what has transpired in Los Angeles this season, but Fisher is clearly still held in high regard among the football community, so anything is possible.

NFC North Notes: Bears, Hundley, Lions

Although John Fox is known for his conservative tendencies, the Bears coach wanted to pull the trigger on starting the Mitch Trubisky era earlier than the team ended up going through with the quarterback switch. Fox raved about the No. 2 overall pick’s upside and was open to the team replacing Mike Glennon earlier than Week 5, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports. However, ownership and management, due to Trubisky’s inexperience and the investment the team recently made in Glennon, halted the switch before finally agreeing to turn to the rookie after Glennon’s rough outing in Green Bay. Trubisky picked up his first career win as a starter Sunday, with the Bears beating the Ravens in overtime.

Here’s more from the NFC North, shifting to the division’s highest-profile quarterback situation.

  • Mike McCarthy doesn’t sound ready to explore outside solutions to replace Aaron Rodgers after the perennial MVP candidate broke his collarbone Sunday. The Packers coach said postgame (via Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin.com, on Twitter) Brett Hundley is his starting quarterback and Joe Callahan, who hasn’t played in a regular-season game yet, is the backup. A 2015 fifth-round pick, Hundley entered Sunday with 11 career pass attempts. The UCLA product threw three interceptions in the Packers’ loss to the Vikings. Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III and Matt McGloin are among the UFA options. Wisconsin native Tony Romo has stood out as an analyst in his first season, and the 37-year-old recently retired passer reportedly would only consider a return to the NFL if the Cowboys needed him. However, this would be quite the special circumstance, given the Packers’ recent track record.
  • The Lions continue to wait for left tackle Taylor Decker to return to action, and Greg Robinson has yet to prove a capable replacement. But it’s likely the former No. 2 overall pick will continue to function as the Lions’ starter on the left edge due to his experience advantage over Brian Mihalik and Emmett Cleary, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com writes. However, Rothstein notes Decker might be ready to play by the time the Lions return to action in Week 8. A late-October return gels with the last update that emerged on Decker.
  • Teddy Bridgewater received good news on multiple fronts. Eligible to come off the PUP list on Monday, the Vikings quarterback is said to be ready to go. Bridgewater’s contract situation also looks to be breaking in a favorable fashion after previously residing in a murky place.

Draft Expands Rift Between Pace, Fox?

Ryan Pace and John Fox are entering their third year together with the Bears, but the duo was not seeing eye to eye before this draft commenced, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com notes. After this controversial weekend for the franchise, the rift between the GM and coach may well have expanded.

Chicago’s decision to trade multiple draft picks for the right to move up from No. 3 to No. 2 and take Mitch Trubisky has Fox “fuming,” according to an executive of an annual playoff contender, because the veteran head coach might not have been too involved in the decision-making process. After all, this didn’t do much to help the 2017 Bears before a season that could involve Fox coaching for his job.

We don’t know what the hell they were doing,” the anonymous exec told La Canfora. “It’s all anyone is talking about. It’s really bad between Pace and Fox. Fox is fuming about being left in the dark on the trade. I don’t know anyone who likes their draft. From the first pick on, we can’t figure out what they were doing. Go back and look at how many small-school kids they took. People around the league are shocked. It’s really bad between Pace and Fox.”

Beyond Trubisky, the Bears took injury-risk Alabama safety Eddie Jackson and three small-school prospects: Ashland tight end Adam Shaheen, North Carolina A&T running back Tarik Cohen and Kutztown offensive lineman Jordan Morgan. So the odds that this draft class can do a lot to help this particular Bears team may be quite slim. But for the future, Pace believes he’s found his version of Drew Brees, although it’s likely damaged the young relationship between the GM and presumptive 2017 starting quarterback Mike Glennon, Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune writes.

Fox has guided the Bears to nine wins in two seasons with the Bears. He led the Broncos to three straight 12-plus-win seasons from 2012-14, although he was gifted Peyton Manning midway through his Denver tenure. Campbell points to Jeff Fisher‘s firing, and Rams GM Les Snead being allowed to pick the next coach, months after the Jared Goff maneuver as an example of how this Trubisky pick could go badly for Fox. Noting that Trubisky will eat into the still-raw Glennon’s practice reps, Campbell argues the Bears won’t be getting the optimal version of the passer for whom they gave an $18.5MM guarantee.

Either the Bears know something no one else in the league knows, or that draft just got a lot of people fired only they don’t know it yet,” another exec told La Canfora.

Should Pace be allowed to shop for a Fox successor as early as 2018, La Canfora expects Saints OC Pete Carmichael, whose Saints tenure overlapped with Pace’s run in their front office for a nine-year period. La Canfora also speculates Northwestern HC Pat Fitzgerald would be a logical candidate, though he’s skeptical if Fitzgerald would leave Northwestern.

NFC Draft Notes: Bears, 49ers, Saints, Lions

Reports emerged last night that Bears head coach John Fox was unaware of his club’s intention to draft North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky until a “couple hours” before the draft. GM Ryan Pace subsequently denied those reports, saying his head coach is involved in all of the team’s decisions.

“That stuff is so false,” Pace said (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). “There’s consistency in everything we do, so we all work arm-in-arm and that’s the way it is and that’s the way it should be.

“John is involved in every decision deeply. The respect I have for John is enormous, especially his experience and all of the players that he’s been with. I think if you look back — and we talked about this — I think a lot of it was kept secret I thought we did a good job keeping this thing pretty under wraps, it’s so sensitive. But if you go back to the private workouts that we had, I mean John and I — it’s pretty hard to hide him — but we’re traveling to Chapel Hill and having dinners and workouts with Mitch, so he’s been deeply involved from the very beginning.”

Let’s check out some other draft notes from around the NFC…

  • The Vikings reportedly approached the 49ers about trading for the 104th pick, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area (via Twitter). However, San Francisco wanted to guarantee that they’d get Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard, so they rebuffed Minnesota’s advances. Ironically, Minnesota was previously in possession of that pick.
  • The Saints were fans of Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes, general manager Mickey Loomis told Larry Holder of NOLA.com (Twitter link). However, with Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore still being on the board, New Orleans wasn’t too interested in moving up for the signal-caller. Mahomes was ultimately reelected 10th overall by the Chiefs.
  • UCLA cornerback Fabian Moreau‘s pectoral muscle is “looking great,” tweets NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. This reassurance probably convinced the Redskins to take the defensive back with the 81st-overall pick.
  • The Lions selected cornerback Teez Tabor with the 53rd pick, despite the fact he suffered a hamstring injury during his workout with the team. Rapoport tweets that the Florida product didn’t end up working out for any other teams.