John Fox’s credentials are pretty interesting.
His teams have made the playoffs in seven of his 13 seasons as head coach — a stretch in which the Bears have made the postseason three years and have three wins to show for it.
He took the 2003 Panthers to the Super Bowl with a 28-year-old Jake Delhomme posting an 80.6 quarterback rating and a 3.6 interception percentage in his first year as a starter.
Eight years and approximately 1,500 miles later, Fox was coaching the Broncos to a playoff win against the Steelers with Tim Tebow — and his 46.5 completion percentage.
Let’s point out the elephant in the room. John Fox was 39-10 with Peyton Manning and 81-79 without him.
All things considered, Fox is still the best known coaching candidate.
For the sake of fairness, the following is an analysis of Fox’s pre-Manning head coaching career.
Offensively, Fox seems committed to the run. His teams rank in the top third in rushing attempts (10.5 of 32 teams on average) and top half in rushing yards (average rank: 13.7) and in the middle in yards per attempt (16.2).
Bears fans love the idea of running the ball. After watching Matt Forte go underused the last two years while Jay Cutler posted a 4.1 turnover rate last season, I can’t say I blame them. In fact, Forte would provide an upgrade to what Fox had to work with in Carolina, where his leading rushers were Lamar Smith, Stephen Davis, DeShaun Foster (3 years), Nick Goings, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.
Of that group, only Davis (2003), Williams (2008-09) and Stewart (2009) produced 1,000-yard seasons. Fitting enough, in those three seasons, the Panthers ranked third, sixth and seventh in rushing attempts; seventh, third and third in total rushing yards and 17th, second and third in yards per attempt.
Davis averaged 22.7 attempts per game in 2003. Williams averaged 18.8 rush attempts in his 1,000-yard seasons in 2008 and 2009. In shared duties in 2009, Stewart averaged 13.8 carries. Furthermore, Williams and Stewart averaged 30.4 rush attempts per game and 5.1 yards per carry in 2009.
If John Fox were to take over as Bears head coach, I suppose it would be up to new GM Ryan Pace to maybe find a tag-team partner for Forte to work with moving forward.
Fox made a name for himself as the Giants defensive coordinator from 1997-2001 with prior experience as a defensive backs coach from 1989-1993 with the Steelers and Chargers. He was also a defensive coordinator with the Raiders in 1994 and 1995.
Defensively, the non-Manning teams Fox was the head coach on had five top-10 finishes in points allowed, four top-10 finishes in takeaways and four top-10 finishes in total yards allowed. On average, his team defenses ranked in the top half of points (average rank: 12.9), takeaways (average rank: 12.6) and yards allowed (average rank: 13).
In short, if you want the Bears to re-commit to running the ball and finding a newfound emphasis on defense, John Fox’s credentials are the best of the known candidates.