After less than two years in Denver, the Josh McDaniels experiment was terminated. McDaniels tore down a well put together team. Granted the team had problems, especially on the defensive side of the ball...or perhaps I should say, just on the defensive side of the ball as Mike Shanahan had the 2nd ranked offense in his last season with the Broncos.
It became apparent that Shanahan was just throwing darts at a dart board holding a list of potential defensive talent in his last few years in Denver as Shanahan's defense ranked 29th in his last season there. The non-attention to defense is what became his downfall and would lead to the Shanahan era ending in the Mile High city.
It was apparent to everyone except Broncos owner, Pat Bowlen, that Denver should bring in a defensive Head Coach and have him a hire a top notch Offensive Coordinator so he could just turn the keys over and run the Ferrari of an offense that was already there. The logic of course is that this way there would be instant success on the defensive side of the ball and the offense would keep running as usual.
When the search for a coach first started my first choice was Rex Ryan. We all know how that's turn out so far. Ryan is appearing in his 2nd straight AFC Championship game with a quarterback that he drafted as a rookie. Would Bowlen now right a wrong and hire Ryan's twin brother, Ryan? They definitely have to hire a defensive minded coach, right? But, it didn't appear this way at first. They were interviewing Eric Studesville, Rick Dennison, and Dirk Koetter, which are all offensive minded coaches. Then they finally brought in Perry Fewell and John Fox. The Broncos never didn't interview Rob Ryan or my personal favorite, Ron Rivera (who was hired as the Carolina Panthers head coach), but at least they ultimately went with a defensive minded coach. The Broncos hired John Fox, the former Head Coach of the Carolina Panthers after he wasn't resigned in Charlotte after posting a 2-14 record.
In this case, Denver obviously valued experience at the Head Coach position over potential. You get the feeling that the Broncos’ organization wanted to play it safe with their new hire as they have to win back their fan base and felt that they couldn't risk a setback of an unproven coordinator. Fox is also known as a player’s coach. John is great with the fans and active in the community and he'll work well with the front office and meet them in the middle instead of demanding things his way. All in all it was a safe choice. Nothing great comes out of decisions based on fear. When all the facts are put aside, only one thing matters...can he win?
- John Fox is a veteran in the coaching game.
- Fox ran an organization as the Head Coach for 8 years and has 22 years of NFL experience.
- Fox inherited a 1-15 team that he took to the Super Bowl 2 short years later. This is what got the Broncos brass excited.
- Fox also took his team to the NFC Championship game again while in Carolina.
- In 2008, Fox led the team to another 12-4 record but was ousted out of the playoffs due to a red hot Cardinals team and Jake Delhomme playing like Jake Delhomme.
- Fox can turn a defense around quick and knows how to draft young defensive talent.
- Fox honed his craft under Chuck Noll for 3 years (89-91) Bobby Ross 2 years (92-93), Art Shell 1 year (94), Mike White 1 year (95), Rich Brooks 1 year (96), Jim Fassel 5 years (97-01)
- Fox talked Panthers owner, Jerry Richardson into resigning Jake Delhomme to a contract decision after one of the worst playoff games and while skills were diminishing.
- Fox then cut Delhomme the following year after signing him to that huge contract extension. Makes you question his decision making. What really changed about Delhomme in those 12 months?
- Fox never really improved his coaches underneath him. Jack Del Rio is the only one that went on to be a head coach.
- He's never had 2 straight winning seasons as a head coach.
- After years at the helm and being able to shape his roster the way he wanted, Fox ran his team down to a 2-14 record. He's had a hand in the decisions for 9 years now, so the record falls on his leadership.
- In 9 years, has never been able to find a great starting quarterback in Carolina. This makes you question his evaluation of offensive talent.
- In almost a decade, he was never was able to win a Super Bowl.
Denver hired John Fox because he doesn't make waves like Rob Ryan might have. With the PR problems they’ve had lately, they decided that the best thing was to keep a low profile. Fox has proven the ability to turn around really bad teams in a short time period. He's a great defensive mind, which Denver needs more than anything now. John Fox rides the current and will sometimes listen to the advice of the front office...to a fault. He can't be fully blamed for the collapse in Carolina. The Panthers let a lot of talent leave in free agency and had some key injuries as well.
Fox liked Tim Tebow more than Jimmy Clausen, who the Panthers drafted in the second round. No matter what the Broncos' front office said, they were looking for a head coach that could win with Tebow. Fox went to the Super Bowl and another NFC Championship with Jake Delhomme. Tebow equals money for the franchise and the owner is dead set on giving him a chance to see if he can do for the Denver Broncos whet he did for the Florida Gators, win. It may not always be pretty, but you can’t argue that the kid doesn’t know how to win.
John Fox may have been the only coach that interviewed that could win with Tebow at the helm. Fox has already said that he'll run a partial zone blocking scheme, similar to the one that Mike Shanahan made so famous in Denver. The other factor that's intriguing for Fox and the Broncos' offense is the fact that there are already rumors of DeAngelo Williams coming to Denver to split carries with Knowshon Moreno. I'm sure Fox mentioned that duo in the interviewing process and how it would make Tebow's job a lot easier.
Fox's is scheme diverse on defense. He can run the 3-4 or the 4-3. I know for a fact that's something that the Broncos were really interesting in hearing. Denver would like to stay in the 3-4 but I imagine that Fox will run a hybrid and mix it up. With the holes in the defense, this is something that at will help make the jobs of John Elway and Brian Xanders a lot less complex. The defense wasn't the problem in Carolina last year, Fox was able to plug holes on the ‘D’ with young talent from the last few drafts. If he can get Denver back up to respectability on the defensive side of the ball and not completely mess up the offense, the Broncos could make some noise next year. I felt that Fox should have hired a big name offensive coordinator to insure the success of the offense but it appears that Denver wants to keep their change to a minimum. Fox has kept on Mike McCoy as the Offensive Coordinator instead of getting the big name to come to Denver. McCoy has already built a rapport with Tebow and they field it was best for his development to not make a change there. I can see how that makes sense.
I believe that Fox will improve the Broncos due in large part to some key pieces being in place on offense. He's proven the ability to turn around a bad defense rapidly and it's going help getting back the 2009 sack leader, Elvis Dumervil. Fox's career in Denver will have a lot to do with the success of Tim Tebow because if he can't win as a QB next year, I don't trust the Broncos / Fox evaluation tactics of finding their next franchise QB. If he's able to convince DeAngelo Williams to join Moreno in Denver, then their game plan would be quite simple and I could easily see them winning half their games. As the team stands now though, I'll predict Broncos at 7-9 in 2011 (if there even is an NFL in 2011).
Jayson Braddock appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX, every Thursday morning at 11:19 am CST as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk. - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports7910.com. You may email Jayson directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ JaysonBraddock
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