The Chicago Bears have wasted little time replacing the fired Marc Trestman, hiring former Broncos head coach John Fox. Fox spent 4 years with the Broncos, going 46-18 and making the postseason in all four years. Three of those years resulted in divisional round exits, and the other one was the Broncos defeat in Super Bowl XLVIII.
In his 13 year coaching tenure, Fox has a record of 119-89 and made the playoffs in seven of those seasons, going to two Super Bowls and three conference championship games.
Fox will inherit a Bears team that was a porous 5-11 last season and sported one of the worst defenses in football. As good of a coach that Fox is, expectations should be low over the first couple seasons. The team he is presented with contains great players in Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery but also is composed of a large amount of injury prone, aging and just straight lackluster players starting with quarterback Jay Cutler.
Cutler isn’t likely to be departing, but if Fox wants to be successful in Chicago, he’s going to have build a much better team around him starting with the entire defense and offensive line. Luckily for Fox and the Bears, they can get started right away. The Bears possess the 7th overall pick in the upcoming draft and will have a plethora of players they can pick from.
One intriguing pick for Chicago would have to be Shane Ray of Missouri. As of right now, Ray is projected to go a couple picks higher than the Bears, but if he fell to them that’d be an easy pick. Ray would provide a much needed upgrade to an old Jared Allen, and would be a good piece to start building a defensive line around. Fox could also try and woo some of his former Bronco players such as Demaryius Thomas or Wes Welker to Chicago though receiver is the last of the Bears needs. Another one of his former players, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton could be a very captivating player for Chicago as they would likely accept an upgrade from Stephen Paea who is an impending free agent and Jay Ratliff. On top of Paea, Chicago will also have to determine whether or not they want to re-sign Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs and Chris Conte. After only missing 14 games between 2003 and 2012, Tillman has been injured for 22 of 32 games in the past two seasons. He’s no doubt only a shell of his former self, but is still a serviceable cornerback. Briggs will likely move on. Once apart of the vaunted Bears defenses with Brian Urlacher, Alex Brown, Adewale Ogunleye, Nathan Vasher and the aforementioned Tillman, Briggs has declined significantly with age. (Talk about a trip down memory lane.)
Like Tillman, he can’t stay healthy and his stats are down a considerable amount from the late 2000’s. Conte meanwhile is really good at one thing; being terrible. The Bears would be very foolish to re-sign him as there are MUCH better options whether it’s through the draft or free agency. Looking at the other Bears needs, a new offensive line has to be near the top of the list along with a defensive line as well which is why Ray would make sense. At the end of the day, Fox really isn’t going into trainwreck like the ones in Santa Clara and East Rutherford. There is talent on this team, and the issues are very clear. Get younger, upgrade the lines and tell Cutler to quit being such a whiny prima donna. Now obviously none of those are going to be easy, but Fox has the experience to turn things around in Chicago. It won’t likely be next season, or even the year after but this team isn’t years and years away from competing once again.