Saturday, November 2, 2013
Broncos staff could fill in for John Fox
By Jeff Legwold
Just four days ago, Denver Broncos coach John Fox was on the practice field telling his team it had to be ready for anything when the second half of the season begins Monday.
On Saturday, those words turned out to be quite the prediction after Fox found himself in a Charlotte, N.C., area hospital. Many team officials, including members of Fox’s coaching staff, expressed their relief Saturday evening to hear Fox was “doing fine," as he said in a text message to ESPN NFL Insider Chris Mortensen. Fox had been taken in for tests after experiencing light-headedness during a round of golf.
Fox, a former head coach of the Carolina Panthers for nine seasons, still has a home in suburban Charlotte. The 58-year-old was undergoing further tests and evaluation Saturday night, and the possibility remained for what team officials called a “minor procedure" to be performed.
The Broncos (7-1) have a bye this week, and coaches and players were given Thursday through Sunday off. On Monday morning, the Broncos have a regularly scheduled team meeting at 8:05 a.m. PT. But news of Fox being taken to a hospital traveled quickly among team personnel, who may have to make some adjustments in the coming days if doctors advise Fox to refrain from working at all in the week to come.
The Broncos’ medical staff was in contact with the doctors treating Fox on Saturday night and will apprise the team’s football operations staff and coaching staff of when Fox will be discharged from the hospital and return to Denver. Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway was in contact with Fox as well.
But if Fox is forced to miss any time in the coming week, he has assistant coaches in place who could coordinate the Broncos' efforts through a game week. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio would run practice this week if Fox was not in attendance, and the two would set the on-field and meeting schedule for their respective groups as they normally do. Special-teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers would run those units.
Del Rio, who was the Jacksonville Jaguars head coach for nine seasons before he came to Denver, has the experience to act as a public spokesman in the days leading up to the Nov. 10 game against the Chargers in San Diego. Del Rio could certainly manage the sideline during a game if Fox was not available to return to his duties by next weekend.
Also on Fox’s staff is running backs coach Eric Studesville, who was the team’s interim head coach to close out the 2010 season after Josh McDaniels was fired with four games remaining in the season.
Earlier this season, Fox lauded the experience of his staff.
"We've got a lot of guys who have seen a lot of football in this league," he said. "It is a great group, and I feel like it gives us an advantage in a lot of ways."