Reeling in the “Big Fish”? And Other Points of View


  • Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune has started calling new general manager Ryan Pace “Harry Potter”. Very amusing.
  • Hub Arkush, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, uses flawed logic to discourage too much consideration of John Fox as the Bears head coach:

    “Most of what you hear is that with the youth and inexperience of general manager Ryan Pace, the Bears need an experienced hand with a proven track record in the coach’s spot to guide the team and help guide their young GM. That makes absolutely no sense.

    “If the Bears hired Pace thinking he wasn’t quite ready and needed a mentor to train him, then it’s a really bad hire.”

    “In what universe do employees teach and tell their bosses what to do?”

    No one that I have read or talked to has suggested that Fox be hired so that he can tell Pace what to do. His experience and advice would be valuable. That’s a completely different thing.

    “The most exciting thing about Pace’s arrival is his youth, the newness of everything around him and the clean break from all the frustrations of the last 25-plus years.

    “A coach who already has failed twice and was just fired casts a pall over all of that.”

    A. “the newness of everything around him and the clean break from all the frustrations of the last 25-plus years” has nothing to do with youth. It has to do with a hire who has had nothing to do with previous regimes. It has to do with fresh ideas. Pace’s youth does not excite me nor, I’m sure, does it excite many other people.

    B. Being fired twice does not equate with failing twice. Fox had ideas about how to “fix” a Bronco’s team that was already very successful that didn’t jib with John Elway‘s. The fact that Elway was looking for complete change is supported by the fact that he let the coaching staff go rather than promoting from within and keeping the staff. The guess here is that Elway wanted a fresh face to invigorate the team, something that Fox wouldn’t be able to bring after 4 years on the job no matter how good of a coach he was. That’s not “failure” in my book.

    “What’s going to happen the first time the young buck has to tell the wizened old coach he’s wrong and he’s going to do it his way?”

    “And what happens if that starts to happen a lot?”

    Probably nothing. The guess here is that Fox isn’t the kind of guy who won’t accept authority no matter who represents it but if he is, then he’s not the right hire for that reason, not because of the age difference.

    I dont’ see the same drawbacks to Fox that Arkush does. That’s not to say I don’t see any. Fox’s record is for success against what I consider to be weaker divisions without teams like the Packers. That concerns me. I’m not saying that Doug Marrone is the better hire but at least he’s had to compete with Bill Belichick.

  • David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune thinks Marrone is the wrong hire. That alone makes me wonder if he isn’t the right choice.
  • Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune summarizes what I consider to be the one significant argument for both Fox and Marrone:

    “Fox would be the Bears’ first coach with previous head coaching experience since George Halas re-hired himself in 1958. Since 1968, the organization has hired nine first-time coaches who combined for only one championship — Mike Ditka‘s 1985 team. Is that a meaningful pattern? Perhaps we’ll find out.”

    Yes, I think its meaningful. I think if you’ve got three guys on top of the organization who either aren’t football guys (George McCaskey and Ted Phillips) or have never hired a coach before (Pace), hiring someone with a concrete record to judge them by is probably the way to go about it. Hiring anyone else is really just a matter of gut instinct. Does anyone trust the instincts of any of those three, yet?

    Campbell goes on to do a good job of summarizing the arguments for and against Fox. It’s a better read than most.


One Final Thought

I find the media frenzy associated with the potential Fox hire amusing. This article from Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune is typical:

“Within a success-starved fan base that certainly has plenty of scar tissue still present from the [Dave] McGinnis episode [of the 1990’s] as well as a long stretch of relative irrelevance in the Super Bowl conversation, a fear factor had crept in. Could the Bears really let a big fish get away at such a critical time?”

I get it. It would be nice to have a coach with previous experience for once. And we’re all anxious to see a head coach hired as soon as possible. But we’re not talking about Bill Walsh here. As far as I’m concerned, I would be almost as comfortable with Marrone if Pace was. Fox has his share of negatives and its notable that no one else is or was interviewing him for their positions.

I’m not saying he’s the wrong choice. I’m fine with him. But “big fish” is quite an exaggeration.

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