The wait is over: Fox becomes 15th head coach in Bears history

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • John Fox, who has taken two different franchises to the Super Bowl, has accepted a four-year deal to become the 15th head coach of the Bears.

    John Fox, who has taken two different franchises to the Super Bowl, has accepted a four-year deal to become the 15th head coach of the Bears. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/16/2015 4:37 PM

It seemed to take forever, but John Fox on Friday was named the 15th head coach in Chicago Bears history.

Fox, who will be 60 next month, agreed to a four-year deal, and the Bears will introduce him at a news conference at 11 a.m. Monday.

 

Fox brings with him more experience than any of the six candidates who interviewed for the Bears' job. He has 13 years of experience as a head coach in the NFL -- the last four with the Denver Broncos and nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers.

Not since Paddy Driscoll in 1956 have the Bears hired a head coach with previous head-coaching experience, not counting 1958, when owner George Halas rehired himself as head coach.

The outgoing Fox will be a change from the buttoned-down Marc Trestman, who was fired after two years and a 13-19 record. And his area of expertise is defense, unlike the offensive-minded Trestman.

While Fox is considered a players' coach who knows how to handle a variety of personalities, he's also know for being tough and brutally honest with players when necessary.

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Wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad played on the Panthers' Super Bowl XXXVIII team under Fox.

"He was a politician in the lockerroom," Muhammad said Thursday on ESPN 1000-AM, "but 'Foxy' used to say, 'You're either five minutes early or you're late.' "

On Wednesday, Fox became the sixth candidate to interview with the Bears but left Halas Hall without a contract. New general manager Ryan Pace reportedly traveled to Denver on Thursday to continue negotiations with Fox.

As recently as Sunday, Fox was on the sidelines in Denver, where his favored Broncos were upset 24-13 by the Indianapolis Colts in a divisional-round game.

Despite a 46-18 regular-season record over the last three seasons, that loss dropped Fox's postseason record with the Broncos to 3-4. It marked the second time in three years the Broncos were one-and-done in the postseason. Those disappointments bracketed the Broncos' 43-8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, following the 2013 season.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A day after the loss to the Colts, Fox met with Broncos general manager John Elway, and they agreed to part ways.

Two days later, Fox interviewed with the 37-year-old Pace, who led the search for a new head coach, and was assisted by Bears chairman George McCaskey, team president and CEO Ted Phillips and consultant Ernie Accorsi.

Fox's familiarity with Accorsi made him the favorite to land the Bears' job as soon as he left Denver. Fox was the New York Giants defensive coordinator from 1997-2001, when Accorsi was the Giants' general manager.

In 13 years as a head coach, Fox's teams are a combined 119-89 in the regular season and 8-7 in the postseason.

Fox will focus most of his attention on the defense, but his offensive philosophy seems well-suited to the Bears' personnel. He believes in a strong running game with a complementary passing game that has the ability to take shots down the field.

That would also be a departure from Trestman, who was criticized for frequently ignoring the run game.

As Jake Delhomme, the Panthers' quarterback on Fox's Super Bowl team, said earlier in the week on ESPN Radio: "If Fox gets the job, those tires on (running back) Matt Forte will get some use."

Fox's Carolina teams were a combined 73-71 from 2002-2010 and went to the playoffs three times but never in consecutive years. The 2003 Panthers made it to Super Bowl XXXVIII but lost to the New England Patriots 32-29 just two years after Fox took over a team that went 1-15 in 2001.

That would give Fox instant credibility in the Bears' lockerroom, according to Delhomme.

"How could it not?" Delhomme said. "He takes Carolina to its only Super Bowl and turns it into an instant winner as soon as he walks in. He's got a been-there, done-that mentality."

Bears middle linebacker D.J. Williams played two seasons (2011-12) for the Broncos under Fox and said he brings the type of veteran presence that would be welcomed.

"Fox has been through the ups and downs of the NFL," Williams said Friday on the Carmen & Jurko Show on ESPN Radio. "He understands the league. It's a simple game and sometimes I feel like people make it too complicated."

Fox is known to have a preference for stout defense. His last six Panthers team ranked 19th, 24th, 14th, 3rd, 3rd and 13th in rushing yards.

Before Fox's last season in Carolina, a 2-14 debacle in a rebuilding year, the Panthers' defense finished in the top 12 in points allowed in four of six seasons.

Starting in 2011 under Fox, the Broncos' defense finished 20th, 2nd, 19th and 3rd in total yards allowed. The Broncos' run game was No. 1 in yards and No. 6 in average gain per attempt in 2011 before quarterback Peyton Manning arrived. Even with an offense that revolved around the future Hall of Fame quarterback, the Broncos were 16th, 15th and 15th in rushing yards from 2012-14.

Fox's background is as a defensive coach, and he was the New York Giants' defensive coordinator for five years before he was hired by the Panthers. He has spent 26 years in the NFL.

As a head coach, Fox's teams have finished in the top 10 in total yards allowed seven times.

Fox will inherit a 5-11 Bears team that underachieved in 2014, which resulted in the firing of Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery.

Before Pace was hired, the Bears conducted head-coach interviews with Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase and Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Those interviews were conducted by McCaskey, Phillips and Accorsi.

Hours after Pace came aboard, he led the interview of Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles on Jan. 8. Bowles was named the New York Jets' head coach earlier this week.

A day before Fox's initial interview, former Bills coach Doug Marrone and Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin interviewed at Halas Hall.

• Follow Bob's Bears and NFL reports on Twitter@BobLeGere.

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