The Chicago Bears today introduced John Fox as the 15th head coach in franchise history. This comes on the heels of hiring Ryan Pace as general manager just 10 days ago.
With Fox and Pace, the Bears have in place the two most influential positions in the organization. It’s a relationship Fox admits is crucial in guiding the team to success on the field.
“I think it’s paramount that relationship, maybe the most important relationship in an NFL building,” Fox said today. “This is a ‘we’ not ‘me’ profession. That’s true whether it’s upstairs, downstairs or between those lines. I think that culture and that environment is paramount to be successful on the field. I’m looking forward to building that with Ryan.”
Fox said the bond was built during two separate interviews with Pace, one in Chicago and then another the following day in Denver.
“I had the opportunity to meet with the committee and had a great feel for Ryan,” said Fox. “He flew out to Denver with his wife Stephanie, spent time with my wife and I, and we just clicked. So I understand the importance of that relationship, the get-along factor, arm-in-arm in that relationship, and I’m very excited about that moving forward.”
Fox is 59, while Pace is just 37, yet the youngest GM in the NFL said the two share the same belief system, which will help bridge the age gap.
“I kept on saying to myself, the best man for the job. So I really believe he's the best man for the job,” said Pace. “The fact that he's about to turn 60 - there's a lot of benefits with that, don't get me wrong - but I look at John Fox as being my age. He's a youthful personality and I think it's great because he has the experience, still with the energy, so it's a perfect combination.
“I'm confident in my judge of character. We've worked with a ton of the same people, a ton of people that know me very well and know him very well. I feel really good about it. I think it's a great thing that his experience, and me, I'm looking forward to it.”
Pace said Sean Payton – the Saints’ head coach during much of his time in New Orleans, who worked with alongside Fox as coordinators with the New York Giants in the late 90s – was influential in his decision.
“Number one is Sean Payton,” Pace said. “They were coordinators together at the Giants. Sean knows me extremely well, and obviously knows John Fox extremely well, so that was huge.”
Pace said his comfort level with Fox will be a stabilizing force in a front-office system that will require both to work side-by-side on personnel issues, which includes building a coaching staff from scratch.
“That’s going to be special about our relationship, making those decisions together,” said Pace. “We’ve got a lot of respect for each other, so that’s going to be part of it. I look at these coordinators as free agent moves. Sometimes your best free agent acquisition is a coach. If we get the right coordinators and the right coaches, that’s going to set us up. I’m excited about it.
“There's still a lot of heavy lifting in regards to the coordinators and the coaches. We're working on that right now. We're kind of excited to get back upstairs and keep on going, because it's competitive in that market, so we have to get on it.”
Pace said his first order of business is flying to Mobile, Alabama, before returning home to help Fox build the staff.
“I'm focused on helping him put the staff together. I'm going to fly down to the Senior Bowl in a couple of hours and meet with our area scouts down there. I want to meet with them face to face, but then I'm going to come back up here pretty quick to help him put the staff together. Because that's pretty critical.”
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.