Chicago Bears' Fox calm before imminent storm
Though his demise may be imminent, with his critics growing more and more vocal, Chicago Bears coach John Fox isn't stressed.
"Like I've answered really for about the last month-and-a-half, I don't worry about it," Fox said when the subject of his job security was broached. "I've never had trouble getting employment in this league, and I'm not going to start worrying about it now."
After 29 years in the NFL, including 16 as a head coach, Fox gets it. Speculation comes with the territory, especially when you win 14 games out of 47 and stand at 5-10 in Year 3 of a rebuild that has had more downs than ups.
"It's not my first rodeo," Fox said. "This is par for the course in this league. I think there's a lot of speculation every year, and this year is no different."
As he prepares his team for Sunday's season finale against the Vikings at Minnesota, Fox may or may not already have discussed his job status with general manager Ryan Pace, who will make the ultimate decision.
"If I did, I probably wouldn't talk about it here," Fox said during Tuesday's news conference at Halas Hall. "In fact, (I'm) pretty positive I wouldn't. But, really, those things are for the off-season. That's always been my approach every season, and that part won't change either."
The 5-11 team that Fox took over in 2015 from coach Marc Trestman and GM Phil Emery was either a veteran squad or an old one, depending on your perspective.
Of the 72 players who saw action in at least one game for that 2014 team, only eight remain with the Bears. They are wide receiver Josh Bellamy, cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Sherrick McManis, offensive linemen Charles Leno and Kyle Long and linebackers Christian Jones, Willie Young and Lamarr Houston.
Long and Young are on injured reserve, and Houston was waived just before the season and then re-signed a month ago.
"We've done plenty of erasing around here since we got here," said Fox, whose first team improved to 6-10 but then backslid to 3-13 last year. "The way you get better is you start adding. I would hope to continue that moving forward.
"We've definitely made a lot of changes. Like I've said many times, we've gone from the oldest roster in football to one of the younger ones now. I think we've got a good, young, talented roster. I think we still have holes. But at least we're at a level playing field now."
The biggest area of improvement, according to Fox, has been on defense. The team he and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio inherited was 30th in yards allowed and 31st in points allowed in 2014. With one game left, this group is No. 8 in yards allowed and 10th in points allowed.
The overhaul of the quarterback position this season has the team pointed in the right direction, according to most observers. But transitioning to promising rookie Mitch Trubisky after four games in Year 3 caused a slowdown in the team's reconstruction.
"You're always ready for anything," Fox said when asked about the level of the Bears' rebuilding job. "Has it been easy? If that's the question, I'd say, 'No.' "
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