LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Nothing out of the ordinary happened at Halas Hall on Monday, and I’d say that was proof positive nothing unusual is going to happen at least until the NFL’s annual version of Black Monday.
It’s hard to imagine what a loss to the Cleveland Browns could yield but that’s not likely to happen.
Of course, losing to the 1-10 49ers wasn’t supposed to happen either, but hey, nobody gets the axe on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, do they?
Not unless their name is Tim Floyd!
So we are left to query John Fox about where and how a season that was showing real promise heading into the bye at the exact halfway mark on the NFL calendar went so completely off the rails.
You’ve probably heard by now, Fox isn’t wild about answering the media’s questions, but that has often been misconstrued as Fox’s not being wild about the media.
As near as I can tell, that’s not true, Fox seems to be a pretty good guy.
Then he answers a question like this and I’m reminded why the Bears must move on.
I asked Fox whether he agreed that the team has hit a wall or possibly even gone backwards since the bye, and if he could explain why?
“No, I think, I thought just looking at Mitch and a guy like Tarik, you know, people talk about the rookie wall, and I thought those two guys played as well as anybody out there. Not disparaging anybody else but those guys, I thought, played very well.
“I don't sense that. You know, obviously we've lost five games, I'm counting going into New Orleans. You know, I think losing some guys has had a little bit of an effect on that, but that's not an excuse, just reality. You know, other than Philadelphia, I think we've played competitive games and we just keep coming up short.”
Expecting an answer like that today, I came prepared.
The Bears problems are on offense. The defense has played some bend-but-don’t-break, but it’s lost five starters in Jerrell Freeman, Willie Young, Leonard Floyd, Pernell McPhee and Quintin Demps, and when you allow 15 points you’re supposed to win.
Clearly Fox’s blind spot is on offense and with his young coordinator Dowell Loggains.
It started Sunday versus the Niners as healthy as it’s been all year but . . .
At the bye the Bears offense was poor but it was averaging 16.6 first downs, 36.1percent third-down conversions, 29:07 time of possession, 60 plays and 287.6 yards per game —130.1 rushing yards and 157.5 passing — and scoring 16.8 points per game.
In four games since the bye, they have averaged 13.8 first downs, 32.6 percent on third down, 25:10 time of possession, 252.0 yards per game — 86.2 rushing yards and 165.8 passing — and 14.3 points per game.
The Bears clearly have taken a step backwards on offense since the bye.
But asked specifically if he was satisfied with Loggains, Fox responded, “Any time you bring in new quarterbacks, again, we all have to answer that and we're all big boys and we get it.
“I'd like to have been more productive offensively, but the reality is we're kind of where we are. Playing a lot of young players, in particularly at the quarterback position. I've seen improvement in him, and that's kind of what I look for is, are we getting better.”
I admire Fox standing by his guy but clearly there is no improvement in Loggains or his offense, and that is why it’s time to move on, again.
Is it irony, lousy luck or blind spots that Dave Wannstedt jokes they’ll someday write on his headstone, “if only I’d found a quarterback;” Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith would have won a Super Bowl or two if they could have figured out the offense; and now the same bug is about to bite Fox?