As the Chicago Bears prepare for their final game of the 2017 season, many fates have likely been decided even before the end of Sunday’s game against the Vikings.
The biggest is the decision to replace head coach John Fox after three double-digit losing seasons. Many players have expressed their support for Fox during the turbulent season and can demonstrate that one more time on Sunday.
In the past four games, rumors of Fox being fired at season’s end have been heavily circulated, but that has not led to a lackluster performance by the Bears on the field. The team has split their last four games with the two wins coming by a combined 43 and the two losses coming by less than 11 points. The defense has averaged two sacks and one takeaway in those four games.
Fox is winless in his previous two season finale games as Bears head coach. In his first season, the team lost a close game 24-20 against the Lions with a chance to win the game on their last offensive possession.
Last season against the Vikings on the road, the team was blown out 45-10 as the Bears finished the season on a four-game losing streak getting blown out in their last two games in 2016.
In those two seasons, the team had been eliminated by week 15 or earlier.
A win or a close fought game against a playoff-bound Vikings team with a bye week left to play will speak a lot about how John Fox is viewed by his players. A strong performance would show that Fox still got his players ready and did not choose to mail it in knowing his presumable fate coming Monday. It would also speak to the culture he built in the locker room over his three-year coaching tenure as players would show that they are not playing just to get to the offseason either.
Whether win or loss on Sunday, a close game is important for all that are involved with the Bears. It is one more game’s worth of experience for the rookies this season. It provides veteran players a chance to reach any additional bonuses in their contract. For John Fox, it could allow him to leave victorious in his last game as Bears head coach, or at least hold his head high knowing that his players never quit on him.