Broncos, John Elway Must Move On From John Fox


On March 20th, 2012, the Denver Broncos and John Elway made the biggest free agent splash in NFL history by signing Peyton Manning. Three years later, that move has yielded a roster full of talent at every position and with a loss to the Indianapolis Colts (still can’t believe I had to type that) a grand total of zero rings.

Zero, as in ‘none’.

The Broncos had to make the move to get Manning when they could, and winning that sweepstakes was the first in a long line of accomplishments by John Elway and the front office, who have done a phenomenal job constructing the roster as it currently stands. The man in charge for having the team prepared each week and in these catastrophic three playoff losses since Manning arrived is John Fox, and while it’s easy to throw blame his way, I think in this particular case it is well deserved.

Fox’s teams have certainly been known to be conservative, but that has translated to how the players approach the games, their confidence going up against tougher teams, and what happens when you face a hole or deficit.

In the four years that John Fox has been the Broncos’ head coach, I’ve yet to see one time where he went for the jugular of an opponent and made the Broncos’ dominance felt with one of the most stacked rosters I have ever seen. In 2014, with arguably the most talented roster currently assembled in the NFL today with a mix of youth and veteran studs, the Broncos seemed to struggle for every yard, every point down the stretch when it mattered most.

Injuries play a role, of course, but ultimately, the Broncos have looked unmotivated, unprepared, and having a general lack of killer instinct. When I watched the Seattle Seahawks open their playoff run this season against the Panthers, I was jealous. I saw Russell Wilson fighting for extra yards. I saw defensive players sprinting down the sideline to congratulate Marshawn Lynch going “Beast Mode” on a big run late in the game.

I saw Kam Chancellor read Cam Newton’s eyes, decide that the ball was his, and step on the Panthers’ throats for a game-sealing interception. I saw players gutting out tough yards after the catch, special teams plays being made, and I wondered to myself — Why can’t the Broncos have that?

And you know what else? I was jealous. I am jealous.

The Seahawks have what every team in the NFL wants. They are the ultimate combination of coaching, talent, great management, and S.W.A.G.

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The Broncos don’t have that. Why? Because John Fox doesn’t have what Pete Carroll does. Carroll has instilled a culture in Seattle that is blurring the line between confident and straight up cocky. The Seahawks go into games knowing they are better than teams, and they beat them physically, mentally, and emotionally.

For Seattle, the game is often won before it begins. We saw it in last year’s Super Bowl, and we saw it when they kicked off the season against Green Bay, and we saw it again on Saturday.

The Broncos don’t have it, but they need to find a way to get it. They need to find a way to get the 53 men on the roster and the 10 guys on the practice squad and every coach in the building that they are better than the team that they’re facing. I never once got that impression from the Broncos this year, that they felt like they were better than an opponent.

On what feels like talent alone, the Broncos won 12 games this season, including eight out of nine games at home. That ninth home game — Sunday’s loss to the Colts — proved so much to be about how the Broncos and the coaching staff have approached big games. They had a terrible game plan, they looked defeated from the second the Colts scored their first seven points of the game, and the first person who deserves blame for that is John Fox.

We said this mid-season, not wanting to believe it would even have to come up again, but if John Fox doesn’t win the Super Bowl, he should be fired and replaced. Well, the Broncos didn’t win this year’s Super Bowl, so it’s now John Elway’s move.

The Broncos are already set to lose coordinators Jack Del Rio and Adam Gase to other head coaching opportunities around the league. Heck, Del Rio may as well have been wearing a Raiders hat during this game. With both of those coaches already gone and the scheme in place obviously not working to Peyton Manning’s strengths, it would seem like the perfect time for the Broncos to clean house and bring in someone who could revive this group that has looked like one big zombie over the final two months of the season.

The biggest zombie of them all was Peyton Manning, who appeared dejected, distraught, troubled, hurt, angry, pessimistic, uncertain, and generally not himself due to the fact that all the aforementioned qualities have not been representative of Manning in his three years with Denver.

John Fox was the right coach to bring in when the Broncos needed some stability at that position in a veteran coach who had been places before, who could put staffs in place. The minute the Broncos signed Peyton Manning, John Fox may have been the worst possible coach to have in place. The two have not been able to mesh together well enough to win a Super Bowl. To me, that seems unacceptable.

We’ll see if John Elway agrees.