Marty Schottenheimer was one of the best coaches in the NFL for a solid two decade span. One of his hallmarks was a tremendous ability to motivate his players. Chief among his greatest attributes? Embracing the rivalries of his respective teams. During his primary runs in Cleveland, Kansas City and San Diego he was a combined 31-9 against those teams’ biggest rivals. Why is this relevant? It’s a window into what separates good coaches from great ones. A lesson John Fox refused to learn.
It’s becoming clearer by the day that Fox was never the right man for the Chicago Bears franchise. Not because he was unqualified. The man went to two Super Bowls. He was clearly an accomplished coach. His problem didn’t appear until after he got the job. Fox is an excellent team builder. He fosters a strong locker room and knows how to keep players content.
What he never grasped about Chicago is not all games are created equal. To him every game has the same amount of impact on a seasons’ outcome. That’s applying logic to a sport that’s half driven by emotion. No game gets Bears fans up more than the ones against the Green Bay Packers.
John Fox was root cause of teams’ lack of effort vs. Pack
There is nothing more unforgivable than seeing a Bears team play with a lack of interest against the Packers. Last Sunday fans played witness to it again under Fox, and it turns out he set the tone before the game even started. According to Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times he told his players this was just another game.
“John Fox reminded his team Monday that it was only one game.”
Except no. No it isn’t, John. Rivalries at their heart are irrational. A team can have a losing season but feel like it was a good one provided they beat the hated nemesis at least once. The 2007 season was a failure at 7-9 for the Bears, but many fans don’t cry over it because Chicago swept the Packers that year. It’s not a coincidence that the coaches who’ve lasted the longest in Chicago, Mike Ditka and Lovie Smith, had solid records against Green Bay.
Fox is now 1-5. His latest defeat was by far his worst. Dropping a game at home to a Packers team without Aaron Rodgers is impossible to escape from. So much in fact that it apparently enraged Bears ownership.
“Sunday’s loss to the rival Packers has angered Bears ownership, sources said. The way the Bears lost — committing seven first-half penalties after a bye, making Packers Brett Hundley look at times like his predecessor Aaron Rodgers and having Fox’s replay challenge cost his team the ball — only increased the annoyance of a frustrated fan base.”
Bears brass has to set their priorities with the next coach
Per usual Fox shrugged the defeat off as “just another learning experience.” If he doesn’t get it by now, he’ll never get it. Simply having a good coach isn’t enough for the Bears. They need a coach who understands the value of history. One of those histories is:
“Thou shalt always beat the Packers”
If the McCaskeys and Ryan Pace aren’t clear on whether their next choice grasps this, then they better ask. Smith said way back in 2004 that the first order of business was to beat Green Bay. Ditka was drafted by Chicago. He was indoctrinated by George Halas himself to hate the Packers. Listen to Mike McCarthy talk. It’s clear he always understands the magnitude of these games.
Fox doesn’t and he proved that.