Nov 2, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; Denver Broncos head coach John Fox reacts after a score during the first quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
The Denver Broncos’ blowout loss in New England is not a step toward blowing this team up, but it’s certainly got the potential to be a tipping point if this season doesn’t end up as everyone within the Broncos’ organization expects it to — with a Super Bowl win.
First and foremost, that starts with head coach John Fox, the man responsible for preparing his team and preparing his players. After every loss, including this past week’s loss to the Patriots and the blowout loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, the resounding sentiment has been a level of not being prepared that led to two of the most critical defeats in recent Broncos history.
The Broncos are now 1-3 against Tom Brady and the Patriots with Peyton Manning as quarterback, and 1-5 against them with John Fox as the head coach. The Broncos blew a fourth-quarter lead in the 2012/13 divisional round of the playoffs in a 2OT loss to the Baltimore Ravens on their home field just one year after getting blown out in New England with Tim Tebow as quarterback in the same round.
They followed that up with a really nice run in the 2013/14 playoffs and an AFC Championship, but it wasn’t enough as the Broncos were again unprepared and blown out by the tougher, more aggressive, smarter Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
That game was an embarrassment to the franchise, and the Broncos tried to erase the memory as quick as they could by building a team equipped to take down the Seahawks of the world, adding $100 million worth of free agents on the defensive side of the football and signing wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
Still, the bitter taste leftover in the mouths of Broncos fans lingered into the regular season as the Broncos got themselves ready to take on the Indianapolis Colts in home game in front of the world on Sunday Night Football. What has transpired since then is a 6-2 record through the first half of the 2014 NFL season. The Broncos have played the hardest schedule in the NFL up to this point and have lost in the two hardest places for them to possibly play in this league — Seattle and New England.
Most recently, the blowout against the Patriots has left a major wound on the pride of Broncos fans, and has brought out the fury, which is really the source of this post. The inability of the Broncos to properly prepare and win games against teams like Seattle and New England has provided a real black eye on an otherwise impressive career for head coach John Fox, who is notorious for being overly conservative in his coaching style.
Fox has won a division title every single year he’s been with the Broncos, including coming out of the cellar in 2011 to go 8-8 and win a really ugly division race before going 13-3 in both 2012 and 2013. He’s got a playoff record of 3-3 with the most recent loss coming in the biggest game of all, and with a third shot at a title with Peyton Manning, it’s perhaps a do-or-die situation for old Foxy with the Broncos.
In my opinion, I feel like he has to win a Super Bowl, or the Broncos need to switch things up at the head coach position. I’m sure players and fellow coaches think really highly of Fox, but if he can’t get it done three years in a row with the best quarterback of all time and the top seed in the AFC with home field advantage.
The Broncos, like both years prior with Manning, will have to dig themselves out of a slight hole to get home field advantage in this year’s playoffs like they did in 2012 over the Texans and 2013 over the Patriots. The Pats once again control the top seed after their mid-season win against the Broncos, but not all hope is lost with a bit of a softer second half schedule for Denver and a grueling five-game stretch on deck for the Patriots.
The circumstances aside, I think Fox needs to be really critically evaluated. He’s managed the Broncos well, but they haven’t taken a stranglehold on their dominance over the rest of the league since Bringing Peyton Manning into the fold, despite all the records and top seeds. That’s what they were supposed to do, and they did it.
Perhaps expectations have been set too high, but the Broncos know that the ultimate goal is a Super Bowl. It’s why they went out and got Peyton Manning. John Fox knows the stakes are high, and he knows that his time with Peyton Manning — and perhaps the Broncos — is running short.