At a time when a two-year mark of 15-16 wasn’t good enough to get Rex Ryan a third year in Buffalo, John Fox presumes that 9-22 will provide him with a chance to show that the third time will be a charm in Chicago.
“I think we’re closer than people think,” Fox said after the latest loss for the Bears, via the Chicago Tribune. “Sometimes when you come into a situation, you take some steps back before you step forward. I think we’re, in my opinion, in way better position to be in striking distance moving forward.”
With a record of 3-12, the Bears technically can be “closer than people think” but still too far away from contention to matter. The question becomes whether ownership will remain patient with Fox, whose reputation for a second-year bump (see Carolina in 2003 and Denver in 2012) was turned upside down in Chicago.
The Bears will enter the offseason farther away than they were a year ago, when a week or two of potential contention faded to a 6-10 finish. After 2015, the Bears believed that quarterback Jay Cutler had turned the corner. Now, the Bears will be turning over stones to determine who the quarterback will be in 2016. And if it’s Matt Barkley, well, come on. He has played better than expected. Then again, nothing was expected.
The Bears have a few bright spots, but no one will be predicting a Chicago return to relevance in 2017. It doesn’t mean they won’t surprise people if they stay the course. And it doesn’t mean they aren’t “closer than people think.” Primarily because people think the Bears are as far away as they’ve ever been.