May 28, 2013; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos head coach John Fox reacts before the start of organized team activities at the Broncos training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Is John Fox the Right Coach for the Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos Head Coach John Fox was ranked number eight by the NFL Network in its power rankings of head coaches. That’s a fair rating in my opinion; Fox is a top 10 coach but not an elite coach. Should the Broncos win a Super Bowl under his watch, he would make that jump.

More importantly than rankings is this question; is Fox the right coach for the Broncos going forward and can he win a Super Bowl?

There’s no denying the fact that Fox is a very good NFL coach, his record proves that. He’s rebuilt two different teams from the dregs of the league to conference champions. Fox took over the Broncos after a 4-12 season and has since led them to three straight AFC West Championships, and an AFC Title last year.

The criticism of Fox has always been his ultra conservative nature and fondness for the running game. He often gets heat from media and fans alike for things like taking a knee with 30 seconds to go in a tied playoff game versus the Baltimore Ravens. I’m not going to defend that decision, Fox should have let Peyton Manning try to win the game in regulation.

However a lot of that criticism is misplaced, Fox has shown the ability to adapt to his talent which is the sign of a good coach. In his first season with the Broncos, Fox found himself with Tim Tebow at quarterback and changed his entire offense on the fly.

Fox quickly realized that putting Tebow in a traditional offense was going to be a complete disaster. So in concert with his offensive coaches, Fox installed an offense that hasn’t been seen in the league before or since. The Broncos were running the option and it worked. They only finished 8-8 that season but that was good enough to win the division as well as a thrilling playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Some might say that the offense the Broncos ran under Tebow was too conservative but I would argue the opposite. That type of offense has more risks to it than any passing offense. Tebow was pitching the ball on the run, pulling the ball away from the running back after reading the linebacker and running the ball himself. There are far more things that can go wrong on those types of plays as opposed to a drop back pass.

The next season the Broncos signed Manning and the offense has been wide open ever since. In 2013, the Broncos threw the ball 58% of the time. Not exactly the ground and pound offense that often is associated with a Fox led team. The Broncos went for it on fourth down as much as anyone in the league and even faked a punt in a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Conservative offenses don’t set records for points and yards as the Broncos did last season. Yes it’s easier to go to that type of offense when Manning is your quarterback, but Fox has once again adapted to the talent.

In all honesty, the Broncos have gotten too far away from the running game and need find a better balance in 2014. In the Broncos four losses last season, one of the common themes was their inability to run the football. Both the Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks were able to disrupt the Broncos offense with an aggressive pass rush, and they had no running game to fall back on.

If the Broncos are going to achieve their final goal, a World Championship, then Fox must impose his will a little more on the offense. The Broncos must be able to grind out yards when the timing of the passing game is off or being disrupted. They also must be able to run the ball when Manning has given the Broncos a 14-0 first-quarter lead.

Too many times in 2013, opponents were able to get back in the game because the Broncos were unable to run the football effectively. The Broncos have said all the right things in the offseason as it relates to running the foot ball, but the proof is on the field.

I tend to agree with offensive coordinator Adam Gase; the Broncos don’t really need to run the ball more, they just need to run it better.

As for the original question about Fox; I do believe he can lead the Broncos to a championship but I also know this. John Elway has made every move with the goal of a Super Bowl victory and is not afraid of making a change if he needs to. Despite the contract extension in the offseason, Fox is under some pressure to deliver.

Fox has all ready proven that he was the right coach to re-build Broncos three years ago, but now he has to prove he’s the right coach win a championship. If he can do that, then a number eight ranking will be far too low.

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Tags: Denver Broncos John Elway John Fox Peyton Manning

  • Michael Geer

    When the Broncos won back to back Super Bowls they had Terrell Davis and an O line that dominated. John’s arm was the icing. MUST .. DOMINATE .. THE .. RUNNING .. GAME ..

  • David Harris

    Coach Fox has gotten way too much credit for the offenses that Tebow and Manning brought with them from their previous experience. Remember, Coach Fox demoted Tebow to 4th string before he found out that Tebow was his best quarterback in week 5 only because the fans insisted that Tebow play. The fanscircus were right. Coach Ryan stupidly watched his team go 6-10 with Tebow standing on the sidelines. These guys aren’t the brightest bulbs in the pack. In game 5 of 2011, Tebow replaced Orton in the second half and ran the same offense that he was running with a QBR of 101.7, throwing a TD and rushing for one with no interceptions, which is why he was the starter for the rest of the season. Orton threw 7 interceptions in the first 4.5 games and Tebow threw only 2 interceptions in the next 9 games. That is why the defense got better under Tebow because he was giving them better field position and running to keep the D off the field. OC McCoy said that they didn’t start implementing spread option plays until the Miami game. This fact and Tebow’s performance in game 5 (QBR of 101.7) disputes your theory that Tebow couldn’t run Fox’s offense. The spread option also requires an intelligent QB because he has to decide what to do with the ball after the snap. They call it “Ride and Decide”. Manning takes the snap, counts to 1, and throws to a receiver behind the line of scrimmage. If he miscounts, it’s a pick 6. Josh McDaniels has coached Brady, Orton and Tebow and taught them his offense.
    Tebow used it in 2010 with 82 throws and 5 TDs. That’s a TD every 16 throws.
    Orton used it in 2010 with 498 attempts and 20 TDs. That’s a TD every 25 throws.
    Brady used it in 2013 with 628 throws and 25 TDs. That’s a TD every 25 throws in McDaniels’ offense.
    You won’t get a much better comparison than 3 QBs using the same offense and the same coach. Tebow was a rookie who had no training camp. (strike)
    Watch Tebow’s first three starts in his rookie year 2010. In his second start he threw for 308 yards with 27 yards rushing. He had a rushing TD in all 3 games. He scored every 16 attempts with an unheard of 16.27 yards per completion. Notice how he connects with a quality receiver like Brandon Lloyd. He doesn’t throw many short passes, but he can like he did in NY with 75% completions or he can run it for 5.4 yards per carry. Tebow is a QB that does it all.

    In 2011, he played in Fox’s offense and that plus inexperienced receivers killed his passing numbers(Lloyd and Gaffney were traded away). John Fox’s prevent offense would ruin any QB’s career like it did to some in Carolina. His offense is run first and runs the clock in hopes of keeping the other team off the field. The only thing that saved Denver was that Tebow helped to teach the coaches how to run the spread option in the 4th quarter. To his credit, Coach McCoy admitted that he didn’t know the offense that Tebow was running and that he had to learn and research the offense that Tebow and Thomas already knew. The first 3 quarters was John Fox and the 4th quarter was Tim Tebow coaching and playing QB with the highest QBR in the NFL during that play. Tebow was held back by the system he was playing in and the contrast between the first 3 quarters and the his 4th quarter play is proof of that fact. He still passed for a TD every 22 throws and ran for a score every 12 rushes which is down from his performance in McDaniel’s offense the previous year. In one highlight film you see Tebow on the sideline yelling, “We can’t wait! We’ve got to start NOW!” They had 6 comeback victories when they changed to Tebow’s offense.
    Listen to the OC McCoy describe his lack of knowledge
    Tebow has played less than 17 games of total play in the NFL and he has scored 19 passing TDs with 9 interceptions, 13 rushing TDs and 2 two point conversions and rushed for 1052 yards with 7 lost fumbles. He won the AFC West championship and his first playoff game. Tebow set records for passing and rushing and he can’t get an interview in the NFL. Starters in the league are throwing less than 1 TD per game and more interceptions than TDs. Jimmy Clausen was hired in June by Chicago. Clausen played 10 games in 2010 with 3 TDs, 9 interceptions and 2 lost fumbles with Coach Fox. Geno Smith threw 12 TDs and 21 INTs in 16 games in NY. There is something seriously wrong with the hiring practices in the NFL.

  • 53quicksilver53

    Looking back, Manning’s numbers save Fox’s numbers. Before Manning, Fox had 3 winning years, 2 50-50 years, and 4 losing seasons. He was 73 – 71 before coming to Denver. Manning saved Fox’s bacon.
    Pound and ground is great, IF you have a dominant running back, but he doesn’t. Moreno was serviceable, but not great. Ball ain’t the answer either and why Hillman is even on the team boggles my mind.
    At the end of the day, Fox doesn’t have a killer instinct…and needs one. I want to see some passion from him. I want to see him throwing things on the sidelines. Taking a knee shows your submissiveness. The nice guy thing isn’t taking the team to the next level. I want him to ask himself how many more chances he thinks he’s gonna get?

  • Paul Lassiter

    So far Fox has done a great job. To run the ball better does not require a TD type back when Manning is under center. Ball averaged 5.7 yards per carry after week 9 last season which is better than AP. Now Ball is penceled in as the starter, but the Broncos are not putting all there eggs in one basket, they also have CJ Anderson who could be a closer comparison to TD than Ball is and could emerge as the main back. Neither RB will see very many 8 man fronts with the Sherrif under center. Hillman may or may not be on the roster once it is cut down to 53, atm he is cheap and not taking up any cap space but if they need the roster space to save another player (reguardless of position) they could cut Hillman to free up the spot.