AFC West: Perry Fewell< Rick Dennison

Now, there’s some juice to the Denver Broncos’ coaching search.

Finding a new coach is not necessarily about name recognition. There was a time Vince Lombardi was a no-name. I get that. But the fact the Denver Broncos are pursuing former Carolina head coach John Fox should be reassuring to Broncos’ fans. It shows the team isn’t just going to settle for a cheap, inexperienced coach. Denver was trying to nail down an interview date for Fox on Saturday.

The Broncos said they were going to make a push for Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh before he took a five-year, $25 million deal from San Francisco on Friday. But Harbaugh never really gave the Broncos an opportunity to woo him. The other top name on the list, Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, has postponed his interview until the Falcons’ season is over, which may preclude him from interviewing.

Other names on Denver’s list include Giants’ defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, Houston offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and Jacksonville offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. It’s not exactly a who’s who of NFL coaching greats, although Fewell has been sought after.

However, Fox is at a different level. He is a legitimate, proven NFL head coach. Don’t be swayed by his final season in Carolina, where he went 2-14. Fox was forced into a youth movement he didn’t want to be part of and his departure was basically mutual.

He’d probably be refreshed to be with a new organization after nine seasons in Carolina, in which the Panthers were usually solid contenders in the NFC. Fox was known as one of the better defensive coordinators in the NFL before he went to Carolina and his defenses there were NFL stalwarts.

Denver could surely use a strong defensive influence. The Broncos allowed an NFL-high 471 points as it went 4-12 in 2010. Fox has a strong group of assistants who he’d likely bring with him and the Broncos’ defense would be bound to improve under his watch.

The key for Fox to be a successful head coach is to have a strong offensive coordinator. But his impact on defense would be a good start to re-establishing Denver’s program.

Fox was very complimentary of Denver quarterback Tim Tebow prior to the draft and he likely would be on board with continuing the Tebow project and make him the starter in 2011, which is the preference of the Broncos.

There are a lot of reasons to think this could be a good fit. Again, Fox shouldn’t be considered the frontrunner merely on name recognition, but adding him to the mix surely gives Denver a stronger pool of candidates.

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