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Chicago’s John Fox Experiment Is Over

After three seasons at the helm of the Bears, the coach who led the NFL’s least-watchable offense has been fired

John Fox AP Images/Ringer illustration

True story: Sushi was served at the Bears’ facility the week before Thanksgiving, and no one properly disposed of the leftovers before the holiday weekend. So after being embarassed by the Eagles 31-3 the following Sunday, and then waiting four hours at the airport because of an issue with their plane, the Bears returned to the team facility––and the stench of rotten fish. It was described as having a “vile, eye-watering potency.” It was not the first time John Fox’s Bears have produced a decaying mess that made people cry.

Fox, who was fired on Monday, leaves Chicago after three seasons having accrued 14 wins, 34 losses, and countless poor coaching decisions.

Fox was hired in 2015 after four seasons as the head coach of the Broncos. His tenure included Peyton Manning’s 55-touchdown season, which ended with a Super Bowl loss to Seattle. Yet Fox, who also brought the Panthers to a Super Bowl loss in 2003, failed to translate his playoff pedigree to the Windy City. The Bears finished in last place in the NFC North every year of Fox’s tenure. Fox leaves with a win percentage 11.4 points worse than the man he replaced, Marc Trestman, who is currently the head coach of the Toronto Argonauts.

Fox, though, drew the ire of Bears fans not just for leading Chicago to losses, but for the team’s manner of losing. He made the worst challenge of all time against archrival Green Bay in Week 10, when Fox ended a Chicago possession at the Green Bay 2-yard line in a game the Bears lost by seven points. His aversion to passing is rivaled only by Gandalf’s. At a time when the Bears should have been prioritizing the development of rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago stuck with an unimaginative and conservative offense that produced the fewest passes in the league and tied for the fewest red zone attempts.

Some of the blame for the Bears’ season falls on general manager Ryan Pace, who inexplicably signed now-backup quarterback Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45 million contract with $18 million guaranteed but let star receiver Alshon Jeffery leave to sign with the Eagles on a one-year, $9.5 million deal. Glennon was benched after four games, and Jeffery’s production in Philly proves that he might be more valuable than the whole current Chicago wide receiving corps combined––Jeffery had nine receiving touchdowns this season, while the Bears receivers combined for four.

The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Christmas Eve that the Bears were doing homework on potential coaching candidates, and Pace may not have the job security to get this choice wrong. One candidate that is reportedly interested in the job is Jeff Fisher, who played for the Bears in the ’80s and who coached the talented and now-competitive Rams to repeated mediocrity. While The Ringer’s Kevin Clark passionately argued against Fisher getting another head-coaching job, Fisher seems like the perfect candidate for an organization that doesn’t know how to clean up its own mess.