John Elway Now Has Faith in Coach to Develop Youngsters


Take a Knee John Fox cannot win the big game.

In those big games, his teams aren’t prepared, come out flat and his coaching staff has no ability to make adjustments. That was before Fox quit on the Denver Broncos, John Elway and Pat Bowlen prior to his most recent debacle in the playoffs, this time against the under-matched Indianapolis Colts.

But that’s not the sole reason Fox is no longer the head coach of the Broncos. That’s not why Elway and Fox “mutually parted ways.” This goes to a difference of opinion on philosophy and “how to take this team to the next level.”

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Fox has no interest in the development of younger players. In fact, he has no interest in giving younger players a shot. Whether that’s because he doesn’t have the ability to coach younger players, desire to or just prefers veteran players, we may never know. But look at last season as the most recent example.

The only younger player given a chance was cornerback Bradley Roby, and that was because he forced Fox’s hand.

Cody Latimer? Nope, let’s stick with Andre Caldwell.

Michael Schofield? Nah, instead let’s move one of the best right guards in the NFL to right tackle.

At least Fox’s infatuation with Tony Carter ended … somewhat.

If not forced because of undeniable talent (Roby) or injury, if you’re a younger player steer clear of Fox.

Dec 22, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Denver Broncos head coach John Fox on the sidelines during the third quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

For those who still hold onto the failed belief that Elway micromanages the Broncos, if that were the case he would have intervened with all these forehead-slapping roster moves. Elway didn’t. Instead, as any good leader does, he allowed Fox and his coaching staff to make the decisions on who was on the roster and played. Elway gave them the freedom to, for all intents and purposes, screw up on their own.

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That’s where the “we didn’t agree on how to take the team to the next level” comes into play. Elway wants a head coach and coaching staff who develops younger players. Who, you know, actually coach. Who gives the guys he drafts a chance to compete with the veterans.

To have a great team, to have a championship team, you need competition at every position regardless of age or any other factor. You want the best 53 guys you can get. When your head coach won’t consider younger players, it’s impossible to do that. You automatically put your team at a disadvantage when that happens. The limitations that logic brings makes one shake their head.

After his news conference at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, it’s clear Elway has faith in his younger players (Latimer and Schofield were named). He also knows his coaching staff won’t hold back the development of the guys he drafts. Elway knows he now has a head coach and coaching staff who will give any player the best chance to compete and become the starter. Those same limitations of the previous regime are now gone. Since that’s the case, the team is already better and it hasn’t taken a snap.

Dec 28, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) reacts towards wide receiver Cody Latimer (14) after dropped a pass as wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) listens in the first quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Imagine Take a Knee Fox was the head coach of the Broncos in 1995. There’s a sixth-round draft pick from the University of Georgia on the roster. This unknown running back blows up an opponent on special teams and gets the whole sideline jacked up. The conventional wisdom is the guy just earned his shot. If this kid can do that on special teams after just downing a few hot dogs, he deserves the chance at running back.

The only problem is the head coach doesn’t agree. “It was a nice play, but you need guys who do it consistently. He’ll get a look but there are other guys on this roster who can contribute too and have done it in this league. Who have earned the right to play. You need your best guys with human talent who give you the best chance to win.”

Terrell Davis would have never gotten his chance if Fox was his head coach. The history, the memories, the highlights, the wins, the Super Bowls would have never happened.

It’s not just the inability of Take a Knee Fox to win the big game that cost him his job in Denver. It’s also because of his inability to develop younger players or even give them the chance.

How fitting that the Broncos new head coach is a guy who played a huge role in Davis getting that chance.

Next: Elway and the Broncos have to re-sign Brandon Marshall

Next: Broncos will meet reps of in-house free agents at Combine

Feb 18, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Denver Broncos coach Gary Kubiak speaks at a press conference during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports