LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace called the sudden availability of John Fox "a game-changer" in the club's coaching search.
So exactly a week after Fox and the Denver Broncos announced that they had parted ways, the Bears introduced Fox on Monday at Halas Hall as the franchise's 15th head coach.
Pace said he contacted Fox within hours of the coach becoming available.
"I always respected him from afar, but I didn't think it would happen like that," said Pace, who worked for the New Orleans Saints while Fox coached the Carolina Panthers (2002-10). "When he became available, it was, 'Whoa, OK, let's talk about this, and let's come up with a plan.'"
Pace and the Bears brass executed their end of the deal in landing Fox, who becomes the club's third head coach since 2012.
Fox will take over for Marc Trestman, who was fired Dec. 29 along with former GM Phil Emery after posting a 13-19 record over two seasons. Fox finished 46-18 over four seasons with the Broncos and led the club to the postseason and the AFC West title in each year of his tenure.
He is one of just six coaches (Don Shula, Dan Reeves, Bill Parcells, Mike Holmgren, Dick Vermeil) to lead two different teams to the Super Bowl. Fox now sets upon the task of trying to lead the Bears to a championship.
"I've always been of the thought of understate, overproduce," Fox said. "I've never predicted records. If I could do that, I'd be at a racetrack somewhere. I can just say that, in the past, we've made pretty good jumps. So we're looking to do that. I can't predict exactly how fast or when that will happen. I just believe it will."
Fox's track record certainly bolsters the confidence. Coming off a 1-15 season in 2001, the Panthers hired Fox. Two years later, Carolina was playing in its first and only Super Bowl. Fox turned a 4-12 Broncos team into a division champion during his first year at the helm in Denver and even won a playoff game with Tim Tebow at quarterback.
Chicago's front office will expect similar quick results, considering the Bears have missed the postseason four consecutive years.
"Patience?" asked team president Ted Phillips. "We want to win every year. We talk about it every year. We talk about wanting to make the playoffs every year. You can't win the Super Bowl until you make the playoffs. So that's always our goal. What we want to see is constant improvement and progress. So we think we'll get there."
"I've always been of the thought of understate, overproduce. I've never predicted records. If I could do that, I'd be at a racetrack somewhere. I can just say that, in the past, we've made pretty good jumps [in the standings]."Bears coach John Fox
The first order of business for Fox and Pace is to assemble the coaching staff. The Bears announced Monday that they came to an agreement to bring aboard Jeff Rodgers as special-teams coordinator. He will replace Joe DeCamillis, who interviewed in Oakland on Monday, according to a source, who added that DeCamillis has two more interviews scheduled.
Pace planned to fly to Mobile, Alabama, on Friday to meet with the club's area scouts before rushing back to Chicago as soon as possible to help Fox complete the staff. Fox said he didn't know whether he would retain any of the coaches from Trestman's staff and mentioned that he doesn't have a preference for whether the Bears execute defensively out of a 4-3 or 3-4 front.
"This is a very fluid process. I met with all of them all day Saturday, all but two," Fox said. "There are two guys [DeCamillis and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker] that were out of town. I talked with everybody that's on the current staff, explained to them that Ryan Pace, myself, the Bears organization, with all things going forward, there's a protocol you go through in this league as far as guys changing jobs and that sort of thing."
During Fox's 31-minute news conference, he faced the inevitable subject of quarterback Jay Cutler, who is scheduled to earn $15.5 million guaranteed for 2015 and will receive another $10 million fully guaranteed for 2016 if he's still on the roster March 12.
Fox said he received a text from Cutler "welcoming me to Chicago" and said he is looking forward to meeting with the quarterback.
But like Pace days before during his introductory news conference as the new general manager, Fox was noncommittal regarding Cutler's future and even called the quarterback "Jake."
"I'm looking forward to getting to know [Jay]," Fox said. "... I just reminded him that this game is only fun when we win, and we will. ... I'm looking forward to seeing [Jay] face-to-face, and we're going to start that relationship and that process."
Asked what he looks for in a quarterback, Fox said: "One that wins."
Cutler owns a regular-season record of 61-58.
"I've had different ones," Fox said. "They're just like any other position, from the standpoint of what you're looking for: decision-making, executing their job, what to do, how to do it and execute it under pressure."