Like his teammates, seven-year veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara was saddened but not shocked by the Chicago Bears' decision to fire coach John Fox.
It complicates the immediate future for Amukamara, who can become an unrestricted free agent in March. He said he found out Fox was fired on social media while he was driving to Halas Hall early Monday morning.
"I was surprised that (Fox) was even here, but I was very glad, and guys were glad that he was here," Amukamara said. "A lot of guys just gave him hugs and (he) told them he loved them, and (we) told him that we loved him after he said a few words."
Second-year linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski said the final meeting with Fox and watching his firing play out was difficult.
"It's definitely rough," the 2016 fourth-round pick (113th overall) said. "It's someone that you've been with, for me, the past two years -- every day. It's not easy to witness."
Defensive players also met with coordinator Vic Fangio, whose fate is uncertain, but who had a clear message for his players.
"One thing as a defense we take pride in, is seeing where we are compared to around the league," Amukamara said. "He showed us the great work that we accomplished this year with being up in the rankings and showing us our improvement. Just simply to let us know, 'You guys are progressing, you guys are on the rise, even though our record isn't what we wanted. You guys should still be proud of yourselves.'
"And he said, with the coaching change, he doesn't know his future or the other coaches' futures. But he's going to be there as a book of resource anytime we need it for this off-season or whatever."
The Bears' defense finished No. 9 in points allowed and No. 10 in total yards allowed. It was also No. 6 in sacks and No. 7 in passing yards allowed.
Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, the 2016 first-round pick (ninth overall), missed the final six games with a sprained knee, so he'll continue to focus on his rehabilitation and be ready for whatever the future brings.
"I'm just going to show up to the building, whoever's in here," Floyd said. "I'm going to be the best player I can be for them."
As for Fox's departure, Floyd said: "Everybody was sad. Coach Fox is a great man. I love him to death."
Amukamara didn't know how a new coach would affect his future after one year with the Bears, "But what I do know about Fox is (he's) a great, passionate coach," Amukamara said. "He didn't give up on us, didn't quit on us and that's very special for a head coach. One thing we did appreciate about him is, he always pointed the thumb and not the finger, so he takes all blame, and we love him and I know guys are going to miss him."
Amukamara says Fangio would be missed as well.
"Players are a big part of any type of success," Amukamara said. "But coaching is huge. Vic is a huge part of why we were pretty good this year on defense. I feel like he's a mastermind, one of the smartest DCs, most-detailed DCs I've been around. Guys love him. We respect him. If I was here, I'd hope he stays."
Kwiatkoski said he received no indication from Fangio that he was aware of his own future. But the linebacker is in favor of Fangio returning as the Bears' head coach, even if it is a slim possibility.
"Yeah, it'd be great," Kwiatkoski said. "He's done a lot for the defense. He's done a lot for myself; the linebackers. He's a great coach, but it's a business. Who knows what's going to happen?"
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