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For new Bears coach John Fox, so much to do, so little time to do it

John Fox and his new staff have to ask sober questions about who can play and who can't.

It was the old Argentine rugby player Ernesto "Che" Guevara who once observed: "The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.''

The Bears need to apply that reasoning to life with new coach John Fox, who somehow tumbled out of the Rocky Mountains and into their laps. Fox brings instant credibility to a Bears organization yearning for it.

But hiring him was the easy part. Now comes the painful, methodical process of radical alteration. Fox has to be the leader of a football uprising.

Everyone wants an answer on the future of quarterback Jay Cutler, but his status isn't the burning question of the hour. First things first, and the order of business requires securing coordinators, hiring position coaches and developing a tactical plan of action.

There are hirings and firings to be done. Cutler was a big part of the Bears' failure in 2014, but no more so than the complete failure on defense and special teams in the Phil Emery-Marc Trestman era.

Functional quarterback play along with great defense and great special teams remains a recipe for success in the NFL.

General manager Ryan Pace is an old defensive end, while Fox began his career as a secondary coach. Together they need to go through the season game by game and make evaluations on every player on the roster. That will take weeks.

The new coordinators need to do the same and then organize reports on every player from position coaches in ever facet of play. The Bears have released only offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer from Trestman's staff, so presumably there will be interviews with some of the outgoing coaches with the possibility of keeping a couple.

But there must be an assumption that nobody on staff now can honestly answer the question of what went so terribly wrong. Coaches, whether they are newly hired or about to be fired, will have differing opinions on players. Therefore, the new brain trust must evaluate and cross-check all the answers they receive.

You have to ask sober questions about who can play and who can't, who is a distraction and whom you can live with nonetheless. Of most importance, there must be absolute clarity on the value of a player versus his cost and whether that player is meeting the expectations his salary demands.

Clearly, the Bears aren't getting much bang for their buck these days. What can be done about that?

Fox is a popular and well-known figure in NFL circles with a potential army of coaching candidates behind him. But with his old defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio, now the head man for the Raiders and former offensive coordinator, Adam Gase, a potential candidate with the Broncos, it's not a lock that Fox will bring much of his old staff with him.

He will have to compete for some of them. Nobody wants to move unless they have to, especially when families come into the equation.

And some of Fox's old friends and associates will be under contract elsewhere and unable to move.

Next comes the business of building a team and putting the right players in a position to succeed. Senior Bowl practices commence Tuesday, followed by the NFL scouting combine in February. Free agency begins in March with a call on Cutler's status due by the 12th of that month.

Everybody seems to consider sports teams to be assembled somehow as an extension of a coach's will or an expression of that man's personality. Or maybe a team is regarded as representative of a general manager's evaluation genius or salary-cap savvy.

Players, of course, are human, not chess pieces. They come with all the fallibility and imperfection we all do. Infirmity here and weakness there is a constant in the human condition, and no football team is immune.

Regardless, the Bears are looking to become a tough football team again. "Growing the man'' is a noble idea, but winning games is what the NFL is all about. There was blood in the water during the Trestman era. Fox's team has to have more than its share of sharks.

It is the responsibility of Pace and Fox to weed out potential troublemakers and re-establish discipline and accountability in the locker room. The Bears need an identity.

There is a bewildering amount of work to be done, starting with a ruthless evaluation process that will put the team up against the clock if it's done right.

Finally, the Bears seem to have a leader capable of doing things the right way.

Special contributor Mike Mulligan co-hosts "The Mully and Hanley Show" weekdays from 5-9 a.m. on WSCR-AM 670.

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