Its 41°F here in Chicago. Though that may not seem to be very warm compared to the usual temperatures in most of the habitable world, it counts as toasty here relative to the single digit readings which have been closer to the norm than freezing.
And in the spirit of the season, here’s a comforting thought from Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune:
“[New Bears head coach John] Fox is not expected to attend the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., next week while he works to complete his coaching staff. [Bears general manager Ryan] Pace said he will join the Bears’ staff for the premier college all-star game.”
It’s a harmless little statement. But it says so much if you read in to it.
To the point, Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com compares and contrasts Fox with former Bears head coach Lovie Smith here. What Arkush leaves out is the real difference between the two. I hope.
Smith had two huge problems with the Bears. 1) He couldn’t hire the right assistants on the offensive side of the ball, specifically the right offensive coordinator. 2) He had a reputation for interfering with player personnel decisions, particularly those associated with the draft.
Fox shows every sign of not sharing those characteristics. He considers his first priority to be coaching and assembling a staff to be his first duty right now. He’s sacrificing a trip to the Senior Bowl where the live player evaluation process begins in order to do it.
Am I reading a lot into this? Yes. But actions speak louder than words and I think everyone will agree that this is a good sign.
Even if they weren’t in the playoffs, can you imagine Packers head coach Mike McCarthy thinking about going to the Senior Bowl right now? I think the odds are better that he’d be thinking about his next offseason quarterback camp.
For many years my ideal head coach has been an offensive coach with experience developing quarterbacks. I stand by that. But Fox is well-connected and shows every sign of being able to find the right offensive assistants. At least as much as that’s possible. If the Bears see any success under Fox at all, the coordinator positions will be constantly in flux. When Smith was the head coach, you always got the impression that he didn’t want to hire the strongest candidates. It was as if he was hesitant to deal with people who might express a contradictory opinion ([*cough*]Ron Rivera[*cough*]) or, even worse, was afraid of hiring his own replacement. Given Fox’s history, he shows no signs of even thinking about these things, much less making them a major consideration.
I do everything I can to be as objective as possible and reject the overly positive opinions of fans and members of the media at times like this. It’s not called a “honeymoon period” for nothing. But, like the Chicago weather, I admit that I’m starting to warm to this hire. Fox is a defensive head coach but he brings most of the other things that are necessary for the job. Perhaps the lesson that we can take away from last year under former head coach Marc Trestman is that those things are as important, if not more important, than getting a head coach who will be guaranteed to permanently fix the quarterback position. Ideally you’d like to have both. But ideally you’d like to it to be 75°F. Instead, for now, I guess we should be happy with what we can get. Everything is relative after all.