AFC West: 2011 Fox to Broncos

New Denver Broncos head coach John Fox addressed the media Friday. He addressed several subjects. Let’s take a look.

On quarterback Tim Tebow

“I had the great privilege to meet with Tim Tebow during the draft process (in 2010). Actually, we had dinner with him, my offensive coordinator at the time and my quarterback coach at the time in Gainesville and we had a great connection. Tim came by yesterday (and) I had a great talk with him and he is real excited. I think as a player, I have had a chance to review some tape towards the end of the season. I think he has work to do -- he knows it. But, one thing I will say is that he will do whatever it takes. That is one of the things I saw in the early process. He has as good of intangibles as [any] athlete that I have ever been around on a short visit. I think nothing but upside is going to occur for him going forward ... I think those intangibles make that progress accelerate and that is the thing I was most impressed about him. Let’s be honest, he played in a spread offense that is a little bit more popular in college football. There is an art and technique and a feel for being under center. I don’t know how many of you all have done that before, but it is not quite as easy as it looks. I think the rhythm and timing, because you are passing the ball -- not just throwing it -- you are passing, which means you are doing it with relative accuracy and that timing takes a minute. The thing that is impressive about Tim Tebow is he is not afraid to be great and he will do everything humanly possible to make that accelerate and that is the thing that is exciting.”

My take: The Broncos will not make any promises, but it’s clear that Fox is on board to give Tebow a chance. There’s no doubt that Tebow will have the opportunity to win the starting job in 2011.

On cornerback Champ Bailey

“I have all the respect for Champ Bailey. I think one of the messages that I send is that I respect the players. There is no question that Champ Bailey is a terrific, great football player -- you just look at the regard that he is held in by his teammates and general managers around the league. I think right now at this point in the process, it is a little bit hard. We do have a pretty fluid schedule moving forward, with some of the [Collective Bargaining Agreement] things. I know that my former employer [Panthers’ owner Jerry Richardson] and [owner and chief executive officer] Mr. Bowlen are on that committee. Those are the things that we will do everything we can to get the best human talent on the field -- that is going to make our job easier. I think now it is too early to say, other than that he is held with great respect, both in the community of Denver and by the Denver Broncos.”

My take: Fox loves veteran players and he knows how important Bailey is to this defense. I’m sure he’ll love to keep Bailey from leaving as a free agent.

On what type of defensive scheme the Broncos will utilize

“I think that one of the things about being a coach is utilizing your talent to the best of its ability. There is no doubt that right now, the Broncos defense has been structured to a 3-4. I have been doing this for a long time and have a 3-4 background as far back as 1989 with the Pittsburgh Steelers. That is something that will be fluid going forward, too. Because regardless of the spacing and the terminology of the positions -- whether it be nose tackle, weak inside linebacker, weak outside linebacker -- you still have the spacings and everybody utilizes pretty much all the same spacings. And, you can get to that either through the 4-3 or the 3-4. I think right now, we are just going to be looking to upgrade the talent level -- whether that be through pro personnel or the college draft. We will use all avenues to do that. I think from that point you can work that out. That is not as glaring of a thing moving forward as just finding the right people are.”

My take: Fox can run both a 4-3 and a 3-4 defense. I’m sure he’d rather use a 4-3 and will try to build this defense that way if possible.

On whether he has spoken with Mike McCoy about the offensive coordinator position

“Yes I have. He has other options just like we have other options. Mike is a guy that spent seven years with me prior to even coming to the Broncos, so I might even know him better than the people here in the Broncos organization. I definitely hold him in high regard and he is definitely in consideration.”

My take: It makes sense for Fox to want to keep McCoy to creep some offensive continuity and to keep Tebow with his offensive coordinator.

Scout's view: Fox hire

January, 14, 2011
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I caught up with Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. to discuss whether or not he thinks Denver’s hiring of John Fox is a good fit for the team’s personnel.

Williamson said there are two keys here, whether or not Denver’s defense fits Fox’s plans and whether or not he likes quarterback Tim Tebow. Williamson thinks that it appears to be a good marriage.

“I really like the fit here,” Williamson said. “I don’t see any negatives with this hire.”

Williamson on the defensive fit: “I know Fox hasn’t committed to using the 4-3 or 3-4. I expect him to use the 4-3. Denver really doesn’t have a good front seven, so Fox can do with whatever he wants. He’ll be looking for several new players as well. I think Robert Ayers will be a good defensive end in the 4-3 and linebacker D.J. Williams will fit in the 4-3 and you have find a place for Elvis Dumervil. Other than that, I could see Denver looking for four other front-seven players, although linebacker Wesley Woodyard may fit as a 4-3 linebacker. If Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley is available with the No. 2 pick, Denver needs to take him.”

Williamson on how to use Dumervil in a 4-3: He is a great pass rusher. But he’s not great in coverage and his body type is not built to stack the run. He’s best suited as an outside linebacker in a 3-4. But he can help in the 4-3. I’d just rotate him in and keep him fresh and allow him to attack the quarterback in passing situations.”

On Tim Tebow: “The offensive question about John Fox is will he be able to develop a quarterback? He hasn’t done that. Keeping offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is a smart idea. He did some nice things with Tebow at the end of the season and I think he and Tebow can do some good things together. It sounds like Fox likes Tebow, so I think it works.”
Random thoughts on Denver’s hiring of John Fox as head coach:
  • If Mike McCoy -- who worked for Fox in Carolina -- stays on as offensive coordinator, the Chiefs will have to move on to other candidates. It has been reported McCoy was a favorite to replace Charlie Weis.
  • Jim Skipper could also join the Denver staff. He was Fox’s assistant head coach/ running backs coach in Carolina.
  • A couple of defensive coordinator candidates are Ron Meeks and Sal Sunseri. They both have strong histories with Fox.
  • Fox is a 4-3 coach and he is expected to run that defensive alignment in Denver, although he hasn't committed to it. He can also run a 3-4. The Broncos ran a 3-4 defense the past two years under Josh McDaniels. If Fox sticks to the 4-3, it will be interesting to see what Fox does with linebacker Elvis Dumervil, who missed the entire 2010 season with a pectoral injury he suffered in training camp. Dumervil signed a long-term contract earlier in the summer.
  • Dumervil flourished in the 3-4 in 2008 when he led the NFL with 17 sacks. Dumervil also had some success in the 4-3 defense used by Mike Shanahan. The key for Fox will be to figure ways to keep Dumervil on the field as much as possible and not compromise the defense in run situations.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if Fox pushes to keep free-agent cornerback Champ Bailey. Fox loves veterans and I’m sure he’d like to move forward with the star cornerback on the team.
  • Ironically, Fox is represented by Bob Lamonte, who also represents Josh McDaniels. The Broncos and Lamonte worked on a settlement for McDaniels recently.

John Fox is a Tim Tebow fan

January, 13, 2011
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A key part of the interview process for the Denver Broncos’ head-coaching job was the future of quarterback Tim Tebow, who just finished his first season in Denver.

On Friday, when John Fox is introduced to the Denver media, I’m sure his thoughts on Tebow will be major theme of the line of questioning.

Tebow

Tebow


I’m sure Fox -- who was hired by Denver one day after interviewing -- told the Denver brass he thinks Tebow can be a winning NFL quarterback. And I’m sure he’ll speak highly of Tebow on Friday, even though he’ll likely protect himself and not automatically give Tebow the keys to the offense.

Fox is already on the record about his appreciation of Tebow’s game. Prior to the draft, Fox often said he liked Tebow. He was at Tebow’s pro day at Florida in March and had good things to say about Tebow, who worked hard to adjust his game prior to the draft. "He had a very, very good workout. He doesn't lack in the work ethic department, so whatever needs to be done, he'll do," Fox said. " I definitely saw some adjustment and I thought he executed very well."

I’m sure that was part of Fox’s response to the Denver brass when asked about Tebow in his interview. Denver wants to move forward with someone who believes in Tebow. When he was hired to run the Broncos’ football department earlier this month, Elway said he didn’t see a scenario in which Denver wouldn’t hire a coach who didn’t believe in Tebow.

Of course, Fox is a defensive-minded coach so he’ll need to hire an offensive coordinator who believes in Tebow as well. One real option is keeping offensive coordinator Mike McCoy in Denver.

McCoy -- who reportedly has interest from Kansas City to replace offensive coordinator Charlie Weis -- worked in Carolina before joining the Broncos. He called the plays during Tebow’s three starts to end the 2010 season. This all points to Tebow -- who was chosen by former Denver coach Josh McDaniels in last April’s draft -- being in good shape in Denver as the Broncos move forward.

Tebow is on board with the hire. He tweeted a welcome message to Fox on Thursday.

Meet John Fox

January, 13, 2011
1/13/11
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Name: John Fox

New job: Head coach, Denver Broncos.

Fox

Fox


Where he came from: He is the former the head coach of the Carolina Panthers

Age: 55

Claim to fame: He is known as one of the better defensive coaches in the NFL. In 2002, he took over a 1-15 team and led the Panthers to the Super Bowl in his second season as coach. He went to the Super Bowl in the 2000 season as the Giants’ defensive coordinator.

Why he was hired: The Broncos need a quick turnaround, head-coaching experience and defensive help. The Broncos were last in the NFL in total defense and points allowed in 2010.

What to expect: Fox believes in the basics. Run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense.

His biggest challenge: Defensively, he has to work that Fox magic on a group that needs help on all three layers. Offensively, he has to oversee the development of quarterback Tim Tebow.

Did you know? Fox was the Raiders’ defensive coordinator in 1994-95.
Below is the Denver Broncos’ official announcement that John Fox is their new coach. Check it out while I work on my reaction to this big news.

DENVER BRONCOS ANNOUNCE JOHN FOX AS HEAD COACH

Fox will be introduced at a news conference on Friday at 2 p.m. EST at the team’s training facility

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos on Thursday announced that John Fox has agreed to terms to be the 14th head coach in the club’s history.

“Coach Fox is a great fit for us not only with his coaching ability but also with his personality. He’s a dynamic and proven leader,” Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway said. “He’s coached great defenses, turned teams around and been to Super Bowls. We couldn’t be more excited to have him lead our football team.”

Fox spent the last nine seasons as head coach of the Carolina Panthers (2002-10) and has 22 years of NFL experience to his credit.

“I am very thankful to Pat Bowlen and John Elway for giving me the opportunity to coach a football team with such a proud tradition, Fox said. “The Broncos have a culture of winning, and I am excited to continue that legacy.

“I can’t wait to get to work, pushing our players to be the best they can be and representing this community as head coach of the Denver Broncos.”

Fox compiled a 73-71 (.507) regular-season record with the Panthers that included three 11-win campaigns, two NFC South Division titles and three playoff appearances. Carolina went 5-3 in the postseason under Fox, appearing in two NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl (2003).

He took over a Panthers team in 2002 that had gone 1-15 the previous season and led the club to a 7-9 record in his first year to record the third-best turnaround by a first-year coach in NFL history. He also was instrumental in improving Carolina’s defense from a last-place ranking in 2001 to the NFL’s No. 2 unit in his initial campaign -- the only defense since the 1970 merger to accomplish that feat.

His 2003 squad finished 11-5 and captured the NFC South crown en route to Super Bowl XXXVIII, where Carolina lost to New England. In doing so, he joined Vince Lombardi and Bill Parcells as the only coaches in NFL history to inherit a one-win team and lead it to the postseason two years later.

Prior to his head coaching tenure with Carolina, he spent five seasons as the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants (1997-2001). New York allowed the seventh-fewest points per game (18.7) in the NFL during that span, while also finishing fourth in the league with a plus-25 turnover differential. The Giants totaled 230 sacks in five seasons under Fox, including Michael Strahan’s NFL-record 22.5 sacks in 2001.

The pinnacle of Fox’s stretch with the Giants came during the 2000 season in which the Giants advanced to Super Bowl XXXV by shutting out the high-scoring Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game.

Before serving as a consultant for the Rams in 1996, he was the defensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders for two seasons (1994-95).

He got his start in the NFL as the secondary coach for Pittsburgh, where he spent three seasons (1989-91) and helped lead the Steelers’ top-ranked pass defense during the 1990 season. He also spent two years as the secondary coach for the San Diego Chargers under Bobby Ross (1992-93).

Prior to his three-year stint as defensive coordinator and secondary coach at the University of Pittsburgh from 1986-88, he spent seven seasons as an assistant coach at various stops at the collegiate and USFL levels.

Fox started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at San Diego State University in 1978, after playing two seasons as a defensive back for the Aztecs and graduating from the school with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a secondary education teaching credential.

Born on Feb. 8, 1955, in Virginia Beach, Va., Fox and his wife, Robin, have three sons: Matthew, Mark and Cody, and a daughter, Halle.

Broncos hire John Fox

January, 13, 2011
1/13/11
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The Denver Broncos announced they have hired John Fox as head coach.

I think this is the right decision. Fox, to me, was the best option in Denver. He is an experienced NFL coach who can help this defense.

In Fox, Denver got a coach who can quickly turn around this program.

I will be back later with much more reaction.

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