Maybe it’s the winter doldrums. Maybe it’s the fact that there’s no collective bargaining agreement in place for next season. Maybe I had my hopes set too high when the hiring process started. (Come on, Gruden!) Whatever it is, I just can’t seem to get excited about John Fox coming to Denver.
Part of it, I think, is because I got too excited when Denver hired the young, irresponsible Josh McDaniels two years ago. Yes, there was a question as to whether or not McDaniels had the experience to handle the team, but I took it in stride. I liked Broncos owner Pat Bowlen going for some young blood to run the team. At first it seemed to be the right move. McDaniels was unstoppable. Despite missing the playoffs last year, I had faith in McDaniels. Hell, I even defended him at times. What a fool I was. Josh McDaniels has driven this team into the ground so far, it seems he did it by design.
Bronco fans aren’t used being one of the worst teams in the NFL. Denver has been mediocre at times, but rarely one of the worst teams in the league. Bronco fans simply can’t stand for that.
OK, enough depressing talk here. Here we are, at the beginning of the John Fox era in Denver. For one, Bronco fans should be excited that our old pal John Elway is officially working for the organization. The Denver football god is working for the good of Bronco Country as the team’s vice president of football operations. It’s about time. Elway knows good business and he knows how to run a successful organization. Think of all the cars that guy sold!
Anyway, what has impressed me so far is that an offensive guy like Elway opted to hire a defensive minded coach like Fox. McDaniels seemed to forget all about the defense and defense, of course, is what wins championships. (See, for example, last weekend’ Jets victory over Tom Brady.)
When Fox was officially hired by the Broncos, there were many who said he was the perfect coach to pull the Broncos out of the gutter. Fox took over as head coach of the Carolina Panthers in 2002 to change things for the 1-15 team. Hiring Fox worked. In two years, he led the team to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the New England Patriots in 2004.
The next season, though, his team slumped to a 7-9 record. Again, Fox was able to pull his team out of the slump and went to the NFC Championship game in 2005. Once again, the Panthers found themselves in the gutter in the 2006 season, but found yet another high on the horizon in 2008 when they made another playoff appearance. Talk about peaks and valleys.
There is no doubt that Fox has a talent for bringing teams out of a slump and right now, the Broncos need a stable, level-headed coach to pull them from their current slump. Then the team needs to become consistent winners. This is, I am afraid, for whatever reason, Fox’s weakness.
Why is it that he can bring a team to greatness and then the very next year drop back down into mediocrity? Let us not forget that Fox was just fired from Carolina after his team posted a season-worst 2-14 season. Hopefully, for the Broncos’ sake, Fox was in a bad situation either with the owner or the players and just couldn’t make it work within that team’s organization, and will find a well-matched organization in Denver.
Already Fox has started putting together his coaching staff and it looks like he will be hiring former Falcons and Seahawks head coach Jim Mora as Denver’s next defensive coordinator.
The next move would be for Fox to get down on his hands and knees and beg running back Peyton Hillis to come back from the Browns. Allowing that man to leave was the single biggest blunder in McDaniels’ coaching tenure in Denver. The Broncos need a hard-nosed running back like Hillis. Maybe, just maybe, Fox can bring him back. Denver has the second overall draft pick coming up. That’s something to look forward to.
The Broncos defense will also be looking forward to a healthy Elvis Dumervile next year as well.
Times are tough in Denver but things are on the up and up. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to know you have hit rock bottom. With Elway, Fox and possibly Mora running things next season, things will certainly be different.
Anything will be better than what McDaniels did.