NFL rosters undergo upheavals and turnover on an annual basis. NFL coaching staffs undergo their own changes, obviously when a fire-hire happens at the head-coach level, but also in some surprising situations – in this case, the Bears.
The Bears have seen five assistant coaches exit John Fox's staff since the end of the disastrous 3-13 season, the latest being wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson this week, as first reported by the Chicago Tribune. This follows departures of the team's running backs, outside linebackers, assistant DB's and offensive line staffers.
A 3-13 season creates different types of internal goings-on. But while once the hot topics were whether Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio would return for a year three, those two have remained in place while others under them have split.
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If there is a common thread through it all, that thread is difficult to find. "Jumping ship" may be the convenient thought but not the accurate one, since O-line coach Dave Magazu and safeties coach Sam Garnes were not tendered contract extensions. And Stan Drayton wants to become a college head coach, so left the Bears to become associate head coach and run-game coordinator for the University of Texas.
Johnson, who was widely praised for his developmental work with Cam Meredith and Kevin White, had signed just a one-year contract with the Bears in what appeared to be a step to get back into the NFL from a disappointing stint as a college head coach (Tulane). Assistants typically sign two-year contracts but Johnson left himself an out to explore other options in the NFL.
The situation does raise questions of continuity as Fox heads into a pivotal third year after consecutive losing seasons for the first time in his career. What it really does, however, is keep the personnel work under GM Ryan Pace at a premium: Because of what they had in place player-wise, the Bears lost defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan after the 1985 season, replaced him with Vince Tobin and a different mindset, and proceeded to set the NFL record for fewest points allowed.