Slow and Steady Progress Should Define John Fox’s Job Status

David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune continues to write what has been a consistent theme with the media since the offseason, albeit with a bit of a twist:

“Eventually, [head coach John] Fox might realize the chances to keep his job beyond 2017 improve if [Mitch] Trubisky beats out [Mike] Glennon and becomes the starter.”

“A 6-10 season, for example, with Glennon starting 16 games and Trubisky learning whatever backup quarterbacks learn by watching would cry out for a coaching change likely to coincide with Trubisky’s promotion in 2018. But a 6-10 season with Trubisky showing flashes under Fox and his staff might allow the coach to complete the final year of his contract when — lame-duck status or not — the continuity could benefit the young quarterback. Maybe positive signs despite a 5-11 or 4-12 record would have a similar effect.”

I don’t have a huge problem with the sentiment or the major point of the article (but see below).  My problem is with the “cry out for a coaching change” at 6-10 part.

What is most important for Fox right now is forward progress. And 6-10 with Glennon or Trubisky would be a significant improvement. Whether that justifies keeping Fox would, as always, depend on the circumstances, but I’d say that should be good enough under most conditions.

What people have to understand is that when the Bears hired GM Ryan Pace and Fox they embarked on a long, painful process of breaking this team down and rebuilding it almost from scratch. It’s true that most people probably didn’t think that it would take three off-seasons to complete just the breaking down part but, thanks to Jay Cutler, it did.

What that means from here on out is that the Bears and their fans need to look for improvement starting from a 3-13 base, their record in 2016. A progression from 3-13 to 6-10 to 8-8 or 9-7 to 10-6 would be slow but should be perfectly acceptable under almost any circumstances as long as its consistent and shows signs of being sustainable long-term.

Many in the media have pointed out, thanks to pulling the plug on Marc Trestman and Phil Emery so quickly, that the Bears are in danger of becoming “one of those teams” that is constantly turning over their front office, threatening consistency. They wonder why this happens even as they press to replace coaches like Fox, setting conditions that go beyond simple improvement and slow and steady progress. They demand that the Bears win immediately even as they bemoan the organization’s lack of patience.

Getting back to the point of the article, would starting Trubisky and having him perform well help the perception in terms of how the teams is progressing? No question and the point is well taken. But on the other hand, starting him and watching him fall apart before our eyes because he was rushed and wasn’t ready wouldn’t be good for morale anywhere in this city.

In any case, what needs to be appreciated is that, in terms of Fox’s job status, the point is irrelevant. Whether they start Trubisky or not, the organization needs to be patient and the bar for keeping Fox needs to be at an appropriate level. Coming off of 3-13, I think 6-10 ordinarily should be just fine.

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