Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports

Mounting injuries may have bought John Fox another year with the Chicago Bears

With 14 players on IR, and two more serving suspensions, the Chicago Bears have plenty of excuses to retain head coach John Fox for one more season.

The Chicago Bears are 8-18 in the past season and a half under head coach John Fox. 

Under Fox, the Bears have managed to lose games in nearly every way imaginable, with the team often looking unprepared and unmotivated, particularly late in contests.

The Bears are 2-8 this year and there's a legitimate chance they might not win another game the remainder of the regular season. That would give Fox an 8-24 record in two seasons, which in today's win-now NFL would almost surely cost him his job.

In two seasons under Marc Trestman, the Bears went 13-19, and the team fired Trestman the day after the 2014 season ended. So why would Fox keep his job after doing considerably worse than his predecessor, who had never before been a head coach in the NFL? 

Even if the Bears win two more games down the stretch, Fox will still be staring at a 10-22 record in his two seasons at the helm. That's grounds for dismissal at nearly every level of competitive football. 

Fox's current .375 win percentage is ranked third worst in franchise history, behind only Abe Gibron (.268) and Jim Dooley (.357). 

Fox will surely get his pink slip in the same fashion as Trestman, right? 


Not only will Fox keep his job but there's a very good chance GM Ryan Pace, when he speaks to the media after the season, will praise the work Fox did this year. 

There are 16 reasons this will almost assuredly come to fruition. Here are 14 of them: 

LB Lamin Barrow
OL Nick Becton
DB Brandon Boykin
QB Jay Cutler
DL Ego Ferguson
CB Kyle Fuller
C Hroniss Grasu
OLB Lamarr Houston
QB Brian Hoyer
G Kyle Long
LB Danny Mason
QB Connor Shaw
DL Will Sutton
WR Kevin White

With Cutler expected to land on injured reserve due to a torn labrum, the Bears will soon have 14 players on IR, which is tied with the Baltimore Ravens for second most in the league (the Chargers lead the NFL with 17 IR players).

Here are the other two reasons:

WR Alshon Jeffery
ILB Jerrell Freeman

Both the top player on offense and defense are currently serving four-game suspensions for violation of the league's policy on performance enhancing drugs.

Right or wrong, injuries and suspensions are perceived by NFL front offices as a part of the game that is out of the control of the head coach. In fact, rarely are strength and conditioning coaches punished when injuries exceed the norm, as it's typically just written off as bad luck.

Even for teams like the Bears, who have experience a seemingly never-ending string of injuries the past four seasons, injuries can and will be used as excuses for poor win-loss records. That's especially so for a team in the midst of a multi-season rebuild, like the Bears.

On top of those on IR, the Bears have also had to weather injuries to starters OLB Leonard Floyd, ILB Danny Trevathan, CB Bryce Callahan, DL Mitch Unrein, DL Eddie Goldman, WR Eddie Royal, G Josh Sitton and T Bobby Massie, as well as RB Jeremy Langford, all of whom have misssed at least one game this season. 

Every NFL team deals with injuries but the plethora Fox has had to overcome is at or near the highest level. In many ways he's been handcuffed, particularly at quarterback, the most important position on the field.

The Bears entered the season with established veterans Jay Cutler and Brian Hoyer atop the QB depth chart. Behind them was up-and-comer Connor Shaw, who looked very good in both training camp and the preseason. 

Shaw went on IR before the preseason ended, followed by Hoyer in Week 8 and now Cutler. The Bears are now down to their fourth-string quarterback, Matt Barkely, and there are still six games to play. Things have gotten so bad, the team will soon sign QB David Fales, the club's former sixth-round pick who was cut before the start of the season, to compete for the starting gig. 

There is only one head coach in the NFL who could win games with a fourth-string or fifth-string quarterback, and his name is Belichick, not Fox. 

So from Pace's perspective, he has an experienced NFL head coach who has coached two different teams to the Super Bowl. Yet, while in Chicago, Fox has been forced to coach standing on one foot with a muzzle and two broken thumbs. 

After two horribly disappointing seasons, there's a strong push from Chicago fans to give Fox the axe. That's understandable, to a point, but don't get your hopes up. 

Pace is a first-time GM who relies on Fox's experience. This has been a cohesive effort between the two to rebuild the aging roster they inherited. They knew it was going to take time and they can now use injuries as an excuse to keep plugging forward down the same path.

Despite his record as head coach, a number of young players have shown significant development under Fox's coaching staff. There have been signs of upward momentum, which could take a serious blow if Pace wipes the slate clean. 

If president Ted Phillips elects to keep Pace -- he gave Phil Emery three years, so why would he knee-jerk Pace out the door? -- then it's highly likely Fox's job will be safe as well. 


Bear Report Top Stories