Dear John Fox,
Let me make one thing abundantly clear from the start of this letter: The Chicago Bears are better off workout you. The Bears fan base is better off without you. The Chicago media, who are tired of no-answers and ridiculousness, is better off without you. And the Bears’ young quarterback Mitch Trubisky, whose future is brighter than yours will ever be, is better off without you. And they for sure don’t need your concern because things are finally headed in the right direction.
But you already knew all of that.
I know you’re busy making your grand transition from coach to commentator, which if I may say is a lot easier than a quarterback having to transition from a tricycle to a bicycle. But, he’ll be fine. It’s you I’m worried about.
You seem to be suffering from, shall we say, Jeff Fisher syndrome. You know Jeff Fisher, a conservative coach, not unlike yourself, whose unhappy story mirrors your own? How he had a young, talented team in the Los Angeles Rams, and wasted it. How he had a quarterback of the future in Jared Goff, and wasted him. How when he was fired and replaced with a young, intelligent, offensive-minded coach, he wanted to take credit for the Rams’ success?
Careful, John. You’re approaching dangerous territory. If you keep this up, the 2018 Bears might just come full-circle just as the 2017 Rams did. You know what that means: Playoffs. Good for the Bears and for Bears fans like myself. But not good for you. Because then, not only is it confirmed that you were a detriment to that team, but the whole world — who already knows it — will get that same confirmation.
So keep that in mind as you start your media career with ESPN. Keep that in mind when you’re on NFL Live, as you were Wednesday, and start talking about your former team. Because you know that you’re going to be talking a lot about the Bears this season. Not just because I expect them to a good football team. But because you’re there, and ESPN wants all the clicks. So prepare for some awkward situations, and try not to say anything too stupid.
Oh, wait. You mean you already did? JOHN. When will you learn to shut your mouth? Just imagine it’s a Bears press conference and give vague and unintelligible answers. Or just don’t answer at all. We’ll all be better off for it, I promise.
“Their challenge will be the passing game,” you say?
“That’s where they were deficient last year,” you say?
Well, that challenge was instantaneously fixed with your firing. This statement coming from the man that held his young, gunslinger quarterback to seven passes in a game last season. Seven. As in, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. See how quickly it took me to count to seven, John? How did you ever think that was a good idea?
Let’s be honest here because this is a safe place. Well, it’s an honest place. A place where honesty is the best policy and I will not hesitate to call you out for your shit. You never wanted Trubisky to play last season. Hell, you weren’t even made aware that Ryan Pace was going to draft him last year. I feel for you on that one, my dude. But, you should’ve seen the writing on the wall even then. And maybe you did. But your over-conservative, 1940’s game planning didn’t help matters.
Instead of letting the young rookie, in his 12 starts of valuable game experience, air it out and make mistakes and see how he handled those mistakes, you took the ball out of his hands. Just listen to me, for a second, John. You took the ball out of your quarterback’s hands.
But I forgot, you were the guy that was conservative with Peyton. Freaking. Manning. One of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Why did I, as a Bears fan, ever believe that you could do right by Trubisky? Well, I never did. I’d be a fool to believe that. Almost as big of a fool as Mr. “It’s My Year” Mike Glennon and his $18 million, four-game contract. No, I was biding my time watching Trubisky show flashes of brilliance in an offense that refused to take the training wheels off. I was praying that you wouldn’t ruin this young QB for the next, better qualified guy came around to mold him.
The Bears’ passing game was among the worst in the league. Chicago averaged 16.5 points per game (29th in the league), 287.4 yards per game (30th in the league), and 175.7 pass yards per game (dead last in the league.)
Trubisky played in 12 games in his rookie season, completing 196 of 330 passes with a 59.4 completion percentage, for 2,193 yards, seven touchdowns, and seven interceptions, and added 248 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. His stats weren’t pretty. The Bears offense was ugly, as you know. But it was what he showed on the field that should’ve been enough for you to trust him. Trust him to be a rookie. To make rookie mistakes. But also show those rookie flashes. And he still managed to do that in spite of your restraints.
But the problem with the deficiency of the offense, aside from the horrid receiving corp, was the fact that you refused to let Trubisky just play the damn game most of the time. He attempted just seven passes against Carolina, as the entire world knows. Just 15 attempts against San Francisco and 16 against Baltimore. You allowed Trubisky to throw more than 35 passes in just two games last season. How does that translate to an efficient passing game? John, I’m starting to get concerned here. And that’s not my burden to bear, anymore.
But let’s not pretend that Trubisky had the weapons that some of these other young quarterbacks have. Let’s not pretend that the Bears had the worst receiving corp. in the league in 2017, so I’ll give you a pass for that one. You were literally working with garbage trying to disguise it as something other than garbage. And no one bought it.
Still, let’s not pretend that the blame for the Bears’ passing deficiencies partly falls on you. Not entirely, because Pace had plenty of blame. But you refused to let your young quarterback throw the ball. I don’t know how that doesn’t translate to deficiency.
“Mitch Trubisky, how efficient is he going to be?” you ask.
“How fast can he get used to those (new) pieces?” you ask.
Well, John, I’m glad you asked. Because you’re going to have a front row seat to what many have predicted to be Trubisky’s breakout sophomore season with an organization that is built around him and will go as far as he does.
After Ryan Pace went out and got his franchise quarterback, it was his plan to build this organization around him. That’s what you do for your quarterback of the future. The plan wasn’t to play Trubisky at all last season. But it was Mr. Mike “It’s My Year” Glennon that forced his hand after just atrocious football. By that fourth game against the Packers, it was better to let that $18 million ride the bench than to allow it to further embarrass you on the field.
You had to know you were on the way out, John. You had to have known that the second Ryan traded up one spot to take Trubisky. You had to have known that as you attempted to hide the young quarterback in a season of learning.
The first step in bettering Mitch Trubisky was to get you as far away from him as humanly possible. You had to have known you were fired after that second Packers loss, right? The loss coming off the bye. The loss to Brett freaking Hundley.
The second step in bettering Mitch Trubisky was to bring in the antithesis of you: Enter Matt Nagy, a young, intelligent, offensive-minded coach that had admired Trubisky from afar and wasted no time in assuring us — and him, I’m sure — that he’d get to finally play quarterback in the NFL. Nagy brings an exciting, explosive, dynamic offense that promises to capitalize on Trubisky’s strengths. With Nagy came a coaching staff built to develop Trubisky: Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich and retaining QB coach Dave Ragone, whom Trubisky has a nice relationship with.
The third step in bettering Mitch Trubisky was to finally bring in some weapons. You know, actual receivers that aren’t on practice squads. Pace went out and got the best free agent receiver in Allen Robinson, the explosive Taylor Gabriel, the dynamic tight end Trey Burton, and even brought in backup QB Chase Daniel to help Trubisky get acclimated to Nagy’s offense. Add to that in the draft, the Bears added receiver Anthony Miller, who promises to be an explosive, young talent, and center/guard James Daniel, who shores up that offensive line tasked with protecting Trubisky.
All of the pieces have been put in place to ensure that Mitch Trubisky will be successful. So how quickly will he get used to those new pieces? Well, I don’t doubt that throwing to actual receivers will help. He’s a great leader and a smart football mind, I have no doubt that he will gel well with the new pieces and manage to get the best out of them. With anything it’ll take time, for sure.
Now as Trubisky learns his second offense in his second season, you have to imagine there will be growing pains and it’ll take time. But Trubisky has already shown in 12 games of conservatism that he has so much potential to be a great quarterback. All the physical tools are there. He’s got the work ethic. He’s got the leadership. If Trubisky is the guy that the Bears believe he is, there’s greatness ahead.
The future is bright, John. Well, for your former team and the quarterback you missed out on. Just you wait.
Good luck in commentating, John. Best of luck. Especially when you have to answer questions about the Bears and Mitch Trubisky’s success in the near future.