LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears head coach John Fox is on the hot seat in less than three seasons on the job.
The Bears hired Fox to restore order after the ill-fated Marc Trestman era, but Fox’s results are worse than Trestman’s, who won 13 games in two years.
Fox only has 12 victories (12-32) since the Bears named him the 15th head coach in franchise history on Jan. 16, 2015, and the odds of him returning are shrinking by the day.
The Bears (3-9) have lost five straight and find themselves in 14th place in the NFC entering Week 13.
If general manager Ryan Pace fires Fox after the regular season, here are some candidates for the Bears to consider.
1. Josh McDaniels: The 41-year-old assistant is the hot name every year. McDaniels -- New England’s offensive coordinator since 2012 -- is considered one of the brighter offensive minds in football. McDaniels’s tenure as Denver Broncos head coach (11-17) was short lived, but he’s reportedly matured since then. The Bears would be fortunate to pair Mitchell Trubisky with McDaniels, who’s worked closely with future Hall of Famer Tom Brady for years. The key is convincing McDaniels to come to Chicago when he will undoubtedly be pursued by multiple teams. One possible advantage is that McDaniels’ brother, Ben, is currently on the Bears’ coaching staff as an offensive assistant. Because of his brother, McDaniels should know the inner workings of the Bears organization. Whether he ultimately decides to consider Chicago remains to be seen. The New York Giants job may be more attractive for a coach like McDaniels since he can theoretically bring in his hand-picked general manager.
2. Jim Harbaugh: There’s no guarantee Harbaugh leaves the University of Michigan, but he has to be on the potential list to replace Fox given his ties to the organization. Drafted by the Bears in the first round in 1987, Harbaugh spent seven seasons in Chicago. Harbaugh’s tenure in San Francisco ended badly, but he helped the Niners reach three consecutive NFC Championship Games and Super Bowl XLVII. Harbaugh will want lots of money and power to leave Michigan, but the Bears fan base would love the move. Harbaugh’s ornery disposition is often reminiscent of former Bears coach and Chicago icon Mike Ditka, who Harbaugh played for.
3. Teryl Austin: The Detroit Lions defensive coordinator is overdue for a head coaching opportunity. Austin was rumored to be a top candidate for the Arizona State job before the Sun Devils hired Herm Edwards. Austin should be one of the top NFL head coaching candidates in January. The Bears have gone down this road before. Chicago hired a career assistant with a strong defensive background back in 2004 by the name of Lovie Smith. That worked out pretty well. Plus, plucking Austin away from Detroit would weaken the Bears’ division rival. The next Bears head coach doesn’t necessarily have to come from an offensive background, just as long as he can hire the proper offensive staff.
4. Frank Reich/John DeFilippo: Both Eagles assistants are credited with developing Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz, who may win the league MVP award. Reich, the Eagles offensive coordinator, interviewed for the Buffalo Bills job last winter. Reich was also the Chargers offensive coordinator in 2014-15. Philadelphia thought so highly of 39-year-old DeFilippo that they blocked him from interviewing for the Jets offensive coordinator position. Basically, whatever is good for Wentz, is good for Trubisky.
5. Matt Nagy: Nagy, also 39 years old, is in his first year as Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator. He worked as Alex Smith’s quarterbacks coach from 2013-15 when Smith made his first Pro Bowl. The Bears could also look at Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub -- the best special teams coach in the NFL. Toub did a masterful job coordinating special teams in Chicago under Smith, and has interviewed for several head coach openings over the years, including the Bears job in 2013 that ultimately went to Trestman.