It didn’t take long for John Fox to land on his feet.
Fox was named the next head coach of the Chicago Bears on Friday, just days after he mutually parted ways with the Denver Broncos. Fox, who first interviewed with the Bears on Wednesday, receives a four-year deal, per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.
The move comes as little surprise after Rapoport was told that Chicago wanted to pair first-year general manager Ryan Pace with a veteran head coach. Fox undoubtedly received a strong review from friend and Saints coach Sean Payton, who worked for years with Pace in New Orleans.
The Bears also interviewed former Bills coach Doug Marrone, Detroit’s Teryl Austin, Denver’s Adam Gase and Seattle’s Dan Quinn, but Fox emerged this week as the clear favorite. It will be interesting to watch how Fox and Pace attack this offseason.
Fox goes from a Peyton Manning-led Super Bowl contender to a rebuilding project with questions under center in Jay Cutler. The coach’s first priority, though, is fixing a defense that trailed only the Raiders in points allowed per game in 2014. This shattered side of the ball is in need of leadership and warm bodies after putting the Bears in a hole on a weekly basis all autumn.
Rapoport noted that Fox might be in competition to hire assistants with his former defensive coordinator and new Raiders coach Jack Del Rio. The Chicago Tribune reported that Fox might ultimately tap Kyle Shanahan to lead the offense, which makes sense considering the play-caller’s fondness for Jay Cutler.
Still, too many talented coaches have lost jobs trying to milk success out of Cutler, who is under the gun after signing a seven-year, $126.7 million contract last offseason. His play under fired coach Marc Trestman crumbled this season, leaving the team wondering what to do next with their overly paid passer.
In Denver, Fox piled up a 46-18 regular-season record, but how much of that success channeled back to the presence of Peyton Manning? After guiding both the Broncos and Panthers to the Super Bowl, though, Fox’s abilities as a coach make him a safe and secure hire for this new Bears front office.
How Fox addresses both the defensive makeover and Cutler’s future will dictate how quickly Chicago can return to form in a rough-and-tumble division. Without Manning at his side, though, success won’t come easy.