The question that remains to be answered in the days and weeks to come is how different?
Running backs coach Stan Drayton, who oversaw rookie fifth-round pick Jordan Howard’s 1,313-yard season, has chosen not return, a league source informed the Tribune.
The focus right now is on what will happen with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. Fox and general manager Ryan Pace will meet with media at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Halas Hall. The Fangio situation has been documented since Dec. 6. Fox could potentially have interest in pursuing ex-Chargers coach Mike McCoy as an offensive coordinator.
McCoy served as Fox’s offensive coordinator previously in Denver and also worked for him in Carolina. However, McCoy will likely have multiple job offers and might have better options than joining a team coming off a three-win season and with an uncertain future at the quarterback position.
Howard set a Bears’ rookie record when he rushed for 135 yards in the season finale Sunday at Minnesota to surpass Matt Forte (1,238 yards in 2008). Howard did not play in the season opener and had only 12 carries entering Week 4 when he replaced Jeremy Langford and took over the job.
Howard finished second in the NFL in rushing behind only Cowboys rookie Ezekiel Elliott, who Drayton coached previously at Ohio State. Howard had 100-yard games and rushed for six touchdowns. Howard averaged 5.2 yards per carry, the most by a primary Bears running back since Walter Payton was at 5.5 in 1977. The running game was one of the few bright spots in a 3-13 season for the franchise.
It’s believed Drayton, 45, is leaving the Bears to return to the college ranks. Orangebloods.com reported last month Drayton could land on Tom Herman’s staff at Texas and Horns Digest reported Drayton was being hired.
Drayton had previous NFL experience working for the Packers as a quality control coach from 2001 to 2003. Before he was hired by the Bears in 2015, Drayton was the assistant head coach and running backs coach at Ohio State. Prior to that, he coached wide receivers for the Buckeyes. He was a running backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Florida when the Gators won a national championship. He also made stops at Syracuse, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Bowling Green, Villanova, Penn and Allegheny.