Mike Ditka

John Fox Introduced As Bears Head Coach

John Fox was officially introduced as the Bears head coach this morning. He was introduced by the man who hired him, new general manager Ryan Pace.

Here are a few highlights from his press conference, all links via Twitter:

  • Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune writes that Fox commented on his relationship with Pace, saying that the Bears will be a “we” business.
  • Fox hasn’t spoken with quarterback Jay Cutler directly, but mentioned that the embattled quarterback texted him to welcome him to Chicago, writes Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Campbell also writes that Fox is not revisiting what happened with him in Denver, instead preferring to look forward to his future with the Bears.
  • Since being hired, Fox has put all of his energy into the process of hiring his new staff, writes Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com. Expanding on that point, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune notes that Fox has not examined the roster as of yet.
  • Fox has not yet decided whether the Bears will play a 3-4 or a 4-3 for their base defense, according to Wright.
  • When asked about his input on the offense, Fox remarked “As a head coach, my job is to motivate and manage the football team,” according to Campbell.
  • When it comes to current members of the Bears coaching staff, Fox has not decided whether or not he will be retaining their services, writes Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.comWright does note that they are pursuing candidates to fill their staff.
  • The one assistant that has signed a contract is special teams coach Jeff Rodgers, who Fox says is already in Halas Hall preparing for next season, according to Biggs.
  • Discussing his age, Fox scoffs at the idea that he is too old to be a longtime coach in Chicago, writes Dickerson“I’m very healthy. I’m very energetic. I stay away from mirrors. I truly feel 36,” said Fox according to Campbell. A number of reporters including Biggs thought they heard he stays away from beers, not mirrors.
  • When asked about what type of quarterback Fox wants in Chicago, he simply stated “one that wins,” writes Dickerson. Cutler’s record under Marc Trestman was a dismal 10-16. “I know everybody makes a big deal about the quarterback, and I get that, but it’s still a team game,” said Fox, according to Campbell.
  • Discussing who would have the final say on roster decisions, Fox believed it will be a group effort, according to Campbell“If we have a building full of good evaluators…typically you come to the same conclusion,” said Fox.
  • Speaking on the offensive coordinator search, Fox said, “We will hire an outstanding offensive coordinator. We’re not going to predict how he does. We’re just going to go do it,” according to Biggs.
  • Fox also noted he planned on reaching out to two legends of the organization to bring them back in the fold. One is potential Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher, according to Dickerson, and Hall of Fame coach Mike Ditka, according to Biggs.

Ditka Talks Rookies, RBs, Michael Sam

With the NFL Draft and the majority of free agency in the rearview mirror, former Bears tight end and coach Mike Ditka explores the weeks from now until in his weekly writing, “Four downs with Ditka,” for the Chicago Sun-Times. Among the topics touched on by the Hall of Famer were the Bears’ new punter, the disappearance of the elite running back and Michael Sam.

On what the coaches will be looking for from rookies in minicamp: 

“The coaches have done their homework and watched all the film on these guys. Now they are looking for how they adapt to what the Bears are doing. They have to fit them in to the way the Bears play their system on offense and defense. What happens now, it’s more or less an educational system for these players to understand they have to play in a certain system that’ll likely be different than the one they played in college.”

On the days of the featured running back being over:

“The game has evolved now to where it’s more of a passing game, and teams look at the running back as not being that instrumental. But I know this: If you don’t have a good one, you have a problem. I know we had a good one in Walter Payton, who was the greatest one I have ever seen. All the great teams over the years, except for the Patriots, usually had a pretty good running back — the Steelers, Cowboys, Rams. The good teams have always had a bell cow running back. I don’t know why teams are suddenly going away from this. It’s probably because they feel it’s a position they can get lower in the draft.”

On the Bears taking punter Pat O’Donnell in the sixth round:

“I don’t see any problem with that. Here’s why they did it, I think: They didn’t have anyone else on their board that really jumped out at them. And they wanted a punter because they needed one for competition and they don’t have one. I think you have to be realistic at that point of the draft and say, ‘How many of those guys will really make your team?’ A few do, but it’s not a high percentage. I don’t see any problem with taking a punter at that point.”

On if Michael Sam was drafted lower because of his sexuality:

“Look, if a guy is a good football player — and I assume he is; he had a pretty good track record at Missouri — you would think that people would have taken him earlier. So now, when you get to that point in the draft and [Rams coach] Jeff [Fisher] sees him sitting there, and he knows he has talent, and he knows he has the ability to rush the passer and everything else, he jumps up and takes him. You have to look at it this way: Either Jeff got a steal, or the rest of the teams dropped him for other reasons.”

Mike Ditka Talks Bears, Free Agency

In Mike Ditka‘s regular writing for the Chicago Sun-Times entitled “Four downs with Ditka,” the former Bears head coach and Hall of Fame tight end discussed free agency, Josh McCown, dementia and concussions. Chicago has been active in free agency with Lamarr Houston as the team’s key acquisition, along with signing lower-tiered players like Domenik Hixon, M.D. Jennings, Ryan Mundy, Dante Rosario and Willie Young. Key re-signings have included cornerback Charles Tillman linebacker D.J. Williams. Defensive end Julius Peppers was released due to his high cap number and eventually ended up with the Packers, and McCown found a starting job in Tampa Bay.

On how he likes the Bears’ moves in free agency so far:

“I do like what they have done so far. They realize they have to build on their weakness and that’s what they’ve done. They’ve addressed some needs on the defensive line and in the secondary. I think they understand that if they had any defense last year, they would have had a real good shot at winning the division.”

On if the Bears should have tried harder to re-sign McCown:

“You know, he’s a backup quarterback. It’s essential you have your starter in place. I think it came down to salary. When he saw he wasn’t going to get what he wanted, he went somewhere else. I think it’s a good move for Tampa, but also a good move by the Bears.”

On if he worries about memory loss:

“If you play football long enough, chances are you’re going to get hurt. People didn’t know about concussions long ago. They didn’t understand the ramifications or the long-term effects. They really didn’t know how serious it was.”

On if concussions could ruin football:

“You know, if you’re a parent with a young son, are you going to let him play football? No, it’s probably going to be basketball, baseball or something else. But not football. Give the kid a set of golf clubs. Basically, that’s what is happening right now.”