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The Journal Gazette

  • Caldwell

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Tuesday, January 02, 2018 1:00 am

Bears, Lions decide to part ways with coaches

Fox went 14-34; Caldwell lacked postseason wins

Associated Press

The Chicago Bears fired John Fox, and the Detroit Lions fired Jim Caldwell on Monday.

Fox was fired after three losing seasons, ending one of the least successful coaching stints in team history.

The dismissal came one day after the Bears lost at NFC North champion Minnesota to finish 5-11, going 0-6 in the division.

“Today is the tough part of our results-oriented business,” Fox said in a statement.

Chicago has had four consecutive losing seasons – each with 10 or more losses. The Bears haven't finished above .500 since they let Lovie Smith go following a 10-6 finish in 2012. They haven't been to the playoffs since 2010.

Fox was 14-34 in his three years, a .292 winning percentage that ranks as the second lowest for the Bears. Only Abe Gibron was worse – 11-30-1 (.274) from 1972-74.

Even so, cornerback Prince Amukamara said there were plenty of hugs for Fox when he met with the team Monday.

“Great, passionate coach,” he said. “Didn't give up on us, didn't quit on us and that's very special for a head coach. One thing we did appreciate about him is he always pointed the thumb and not the finger, so he takes all blame. And we love him and I know guys are going to miss him.”

For the next head coach, topping the to-do list will be getting the most out of Mitchell Trubisky. After all, general manager Ryan Pace staked his reputation to the quarterback when he traded up a spot with San Francisco to draft him with the No. 2 overall pick last spring.

Fox is 133-123 in 16 seasons as a head coach and is one of six coaches to lead two teams to Super Bowl appearances, joining Don Shula, Bill Parcells, Dan Reeves, Dick Vermeil and Mike Holmgren.

The Bears went from six wins in 2015 to three in 2016 to five. They were 3-15 against the NFC North while dropping all six division games this year.

Caldwell gone

The Lions fired Caldwell after a season in which the team raised hopes before fading and missing the playoffs with a 9-7 record. They also fired offensive line coach Ron Prince, keeping the rest of the assistants under contract in case the next coach wants to retain any of them.

Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford called Caldwell “one of the finest leaders we've ever had as our head coach.”

“Not only did he guide us on the field to three winning seasons, but he also set a standard of excellence off the field that had a tremendous impact on everyone in our organization and our entire community,” Ford said in a statement.

Caldwell was 36-28 in four seasons and went 0-2 in two postseasons with the Lions. Including three years with the Indianapolis Colts, he is 62-50 and 2-4 in the playoffs with one Super Bowl appearance.

Lions general manager Bob Quinn said he wants a coach to take the team to the next level – postseason victories and championships. Quinn added that he fired Caldwell, in part, because he thought the team was capable of winning more than nine games in each of the last two seasons.

Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin will interview for the job today, according to a person familiar with the coaching search. The person spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team had not identified any candidates. Austin has interviewed with many NFL teams in recent years.

Caldwell received a multiyear contract extension before the season, but the team didn't announce the move for months. This season ended with a 35-11 victory over Green Bay on Sunday for Caldwell's third winning record in his four years.

Led by quarterback Matthew Stafford, Detroit met relatively modest expectations this season, but raised hopes with 3-1 and 6-4 records only to drop out of postseason contention by losing three of five.

Caldwell became Detroit's first coach to have three winning seasons in his first four years since the early 1950s.