LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) The Chicago Bears fired John Fox on Monday after a 5-11 season, ending one of the least successful coaching stints in team history.
The Bears announced the dismissal one day after a loss at NFC North champion Minnesota.
Chicago has had four consecutive losing seasons – each with 10 or more losses. The Bears haven’t finished above .500 since they let Lovie Smith go following a 10-6 finish in 2012. They haven’t been to the playoffs since 2010.
Fox was 14-34 in his three years with Chicago, a .292 winning percentage that ranks as the second lowest for the Bears. Only Abe Gibron was worse – 11-30-1 (.274) from 1972-74.
Fox likes to say that this is a “results-based business,” and the Bears clearly did not have much to show on that count. Fox’s conservative approach and some questionable decisions during games were also sore spots.
He is 133-123 in 16 seasons as a head coach and is one of six coaches to lead two teams to Super Bowl appearances, joining Don Shula, Bill Parcells, Dan Reeves, Dick Vermeil and Mike Holmgren.
Fox helped orchestrate quick turnarounds while leading Carolina and Denver to a combined six division titles and seven playoff appearances in 13 years before he took over Chicago in January 2015. But his time with the Bears was forgettable.
Hired shortly after the Bears brought in general manager Ryan Pace, Fox helped restore some of the professionalism in the locker room that was missing under former GM Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman.
The Bears went from six wins in 2015 to three in 2016 to five. They were 3-15 against the NFC North and dropped all six division games this year.
Injuries exposing a lack of depth have been a major issue since the regime change.
The Bears have had some big hits in the draft such as star running back Jordan Howard (2016, fifth round) and notable misses such as oft-injured receiver Kevin White (2015, first round). They have had a shaky record in free agency and struggled to replace some key players no longer with the team such as receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, tight end Martellus Bennett and kicker Robbie Gould.
Mike Glennon – signed to take over for Jay Cutler as the starting quarterback – was benched after struggling through the first four games this season. That forced Chicago to go with No. 2 overall draft pick Mitchell Trubisky and abandon the plan to use this as sort of a redshirt season for a player with just 13 college starts at North Carolina.
The Bears beat AFC North champion Pittsburgh in September and posted consecutive wins against Baltimore and Carolina in October. But it was a rough season overall. While Trubisky showed some promise, he also struggled at times. It didn’t help that he had no reliable receivers and was playing behind a banged-up line.
A loss to Green Bay following a bye really turned up the heat. Not only were the Packers missing the injured Aaron Rodgers, Fox had an ill-advised replay challenge near the goal line backfire into a turnover by the Bears.
Fox also left himself open to second-guessing in a 15-14 loss at home to San Francisco. Fox could have given his team a chance to win with a late touchdown drive by letting the 49ers score with 1 1/2 minutes remaining. It would have put San Francisco up by five and left Chicago with time.
Instead, Gould made a 24-yard field goal in the final seconds to give the 49ers their second win.