Jesse Pantuosco

Football Daily Dose

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Dose: Fox Sent Packing

Tuesday, January 2, 2018


The John Fox Era in Chicago may have lasted slightly longer than Kramer’s memorable stint at Brandt/Leland (or his ill-fated stretch at H&H Bagels), but it was hardly a triumph. In fact, aside from Hue Jackson’s failed tenure in Cleveland, which is still going on somehow (ask Evan Silva about the cocoon when you get a chance), it’s hard to think of a less successful coaching venture in recent memory. Fox began the new year by receiving a well-deserved pink-slip from the Bears, who managed just 14 wins during his three-year stay in Chicago including five this past season. Fox’s winning percentage (29.2) was the second-lowest in team history.

 

Fox’s firing wasn’t exactly a shocker. In fact, here at Rotoworld, we were so certain that Fox would get the axe that his blurb was pre-written a day in advance. Obviously the Bears didn’t have much to work with on offense—first-round rookie Mitchell Trubisky spent the year slinging passes to the likes of Kendall Wright, Dontrelle Inman and Josh Bellamy, among others. But three years without even sniffing .500 and a lowlight reel of bad coaching decisions (including this gem) made Fox a goner. Hours after Fox cleaned out his office, the Bears gave a vote of confidence to GM Ryan Pace by signing him to a two-year extension through 2021. Pace’s first order of business this offseason will be to replace Fox. Among the top candidates are Eagles QBs coach John DeFilippo, Patriots OC Josh McDaniels, Vikings OC Pat Shurmur and Panthers DC Steve Wilks.

 

Fox was one of several coaching dominos to fall on Black Monday. Jim Caldwell was also relieved of his duties, ending his four-year run with the Lions. Compared to Fox, Caldwell fared reasonably well in Detroit, earning a winning record in three of four seasons including a 9-7 campaign in 2017. However, Caldwell failed to win a playoff game during his tenure (0-2) and seemed to be on borrowed time as soon as the Lions hired GM Bob Quinn. A former Patriots scout, Quinn could look to replace Caldwell with New England DC Matt Patricia, who has also drawn interest from the Cardinals, Colts and Giants. Shurmur, Texans DC Mike Vrabel (who also has New England ties) and Wilks are on the Lions’ short list along with in-house candidate DC Teryl Austin.

 

Another job opened Monday when Cardinals coach Bruce Arians announced his retirement after five seasons with the team. The move was widely expected as the 65-year-old has struggled with health issues in recent years, most recently undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his kidney last February. Arians finished .500 or better in four of five seasons with Arizona, ending his tenure with an 8-8 campaign in 2017. He earned Coach of the Year honors in 2014 while leading the Cardinals to the NFC title game in 2015, where they lost to the Cam Newton-led Carolina Panthers. Arians was close with veterans Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer, who may be tempted to join him in retirement this offseason. DeFilippo, Patriots LBs coach Brian Flores, Steelers OL coach Mike Munchak, Patricia, Eagles DC Jim Schwartz and Shurmur are among several candidates expected to interview with the Cardinals later this week.

 

The Colts are also in the market for a head coach after parting ways with Chuck Pagano on Sunday. Pagano finally ran out of rope this season as the Colts slumped to a miserable 4-12 record while missing the playoffs for the third year in a row. Andrew Luck’s prolonged recovery from shoulder surgery obviously threw a major wrench in the Colts’ plans but after finishing 30th in the league in yards allowed and 31st in total offense, it was clear the Pagano Era had run its course. First-year GM Chris Ballard could look to replace Pagano with Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub. The link is obvious as Ballard overlapped with Toub when he served as director of football operations in Kansas City. Ballard also has interest in New England OC Josh McDaniels and inquired about him in conversations with Jacoby Brissett (a former Patriot) throughout the year. Chiefs OC Matt Nagy, Seahawks DC Kris Richard, Patricia, Vrabel and Wilks will also be interviewed for the job.

 

Oakland kicked Jack Del Rio to the curb on Sunday, but rather than casting a wide net in their coaching search, the Raiders are putting all their eggs in one basket. Jon Gruden will almost assuredly return to his old stomping grounds in Oakland, at least until the team moves to Las Vegas (no state income tax in Nevada!). The world’s utmost proponent of Spider 2 Y Banana has spent much of the past decade in the broadcast booth announcing games for ESPN while also mixing in time for his famous quarterback camp (which sometimes involves smacking Carson Wentz with a pool noodle) and of course, manning the Gruden Hotline. The Raiders will have to satisfy the Rooney Rule before handing him the job, but according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Gruden to Oakland is definitely happening. In fact, Gruden is already eyeing Jets OC John Morton and Bengals DC Paul Guenther for his coaching staff. Gruden is obviously a household name and does have a Super Bowl ring on his resume, but he hasn’t coached in the league since 2008 and was only a marginal success in his last coaching venture with Tampa Bay. In seven years at the helm, Gruden guided the Bucs to an unimpressive 57-55 record and went his last six seasons without winning a playoff game.

 

Around the league, the Giants hired a new GM last week (Dave Gettleman) but are still looking for a coach to replace Ben McAdoo, who was handed his walking papers after Week 13. Austin, McDaniels, Patricia, Schwartz, Broncos RBs coach Eric Studesville and Wilks are on the Giants’ radar as well as DC Steve Spagnuolo, who served as the team’s interim head coach after McAdoo was pushed out the door. Despite missing the playoffs, Todd Bowles, Jason Garrett, Jay Gruden, Hue Jackson, Vance Joseph, Dirk Koetter and Bill O’Brien will all return to their respective teams next year while the Bengals are still deciding whether to bring back Marvin Lewis. In Green Bay, the Packers will be looking to replace GM Ted Thompson, who is moving to a new role within the organization. The Packers are also in need of a defensive coordinator after pulling the plug on long-time assistant Dom Capers.

 

Quick Hits: According to beat writer Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, the Seahawks are unlikely to re-sign Jimmy Graham this offseason. Graham tied for second in the league with 10 touchdowns this year but finished with his fewest receiving yards (520) since 2010 … J.J. Watt expects to be ready for training camp this summer. Injuries have limited the three-time Defensive Player of the Year to just eight games over his last two seasons … Jason Witten will return for his 16th NFL season in 2018. Witten is second among active receivers and fourth all-time with 1,152 career catches … Kyle Rudolph was seen in a walking boot following Sunday’s win over the Bears. Rudolph has been playing on a sprained ankle but has the bye week to heal before the Vikings’ playoff opener … Drew Stanton played the final two games of 2017 with a torn ACL but won’t require offseason surgery. The 33-year-old is headed for free agency this offseason … Colts owner Jim Irsay promised Andrew Luck will return in 2018. After going his first three years without missing a single game, Luck has accrued a combined 26 absences over his last three seasons … Jonathan Stewart missed last week’s regular season finale due to back tightness but should be available for Sunday’s Wild Card game against New Orleans. J-Stew rushed for 45 yards and a touchdown when he faced the Saints in Week 13 … Bills coach Sean McDermott believes there’s a “chance” LeSean McCoy (ankle) will be able to suit up for Sunday’s Wild Card game in Jacksonville. Marcus Murphy and Mike Tolbert would likely split carries if McCoy can’t get the green light … Cameron Meredith plans on being ready for training camp this summer. Meredith missed all of 2017 after tearing his ACL in the Bears’ third preseason game … Impending free agent Brent Grimes said the Buccaneers are interested in re-signing him. The 34-year-old earned PFF’s No. 40 coverage grade out of 121 qualifiers at cornerback this year … Sports Illustrated’s Peter King was told by a veteran NFL scout that the Browns are unlikely to pass on Wyoming QB Josh Allen with the first overall pick. The junior compiled 21 touchdowns (16 passing, five rushing) with just six interceptions this past season.    



Jesse Pantuosco is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld. He has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JessePantuosco.
Email :Jesse Pantuosco



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