**Note: This preview section will be a 3-part series. I hope you enjoy them. KK**
Perhaps the biggest impact for this year's Denver Broncos team, will be the hiring of a (mostly) new coaching staff. I think it's safe to say that major change was needed to ensure a return to Broncos Football. This post is going to introduce you to the gentlemen who I have mentioned in my Training Camp posts during the past few weeks. If you're ready, let's jump!
John Fox - Head Coach
John Fox was named the 14th head coach in Denver Broncos history on Jan. 13, 2011. One of the NFL’s most experienced and respected head coaches, Fox has experience on multiple Super Bowl teams and has totaled the 3rd-most wins (78) among all NFL head coaches since 2002. He joins the Broncos after spending the previous nine seasons (2002-10) as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers. Fox signed a 4 year $14 million dollar deal after being chosen from a list of 5 possible head coach candidates. He was selected based on his previous head coaching experience plus his 20+ years as an NFL coach (2002-10) as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers.
John attended San Diego State, where he played Defensive Back with NFL player & head coach Herman Edwards. He received a bachelor’s degree in physical education and earned teaching credentials there. Fox began his first professional football coaching stint in the short-lived United States Football League with the Los Angeles Express in 1984. He entered the NFL in 1989 as the secondary coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, later also holding this job with the San Diego Chargers. Fox was the defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Raiders and later that of the New York Giants during Super Bowl XXXV, which they lost.
John Fox has served under Noll, Pittsburgh Steelers (1969–1991), Bobby Ross, San Diego Chargers (1992–1993), Art Shell, Oakland Raiders (1994), Mike White, Oakland Raiders (1995)., Rich Brooks, St. Louis Rams (1996) and Jim Fassel, New York Giants, (1997–2001). His record is 73-71 (.507) during regular-season play and 5-3 for the post-season, all with the Panthers during his nine years as head coach. He led Carolina to three 11-win campaigns, two NFC South Division titles and three playoff appearances.
Dennis Allen - Defensive Coordinator
Allen previously coached for the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Tulsa University and his alma mater, Texas A&M University. Dennis was a highly-recruited defensive back in High School before choosing to play for Texas A&M. He was a 4-year letterman for the Aggies as a safety from 1992-1995. Allen was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Buffalo Bills and competed in their training camp in 1996. He began his coaching career at his alma mater, serving as a graduate assistant coach under his old coach R. C. Slocum for 4 seasons (1996–1999), working primarily with the secondary. From there he went on to Tulsa where he was a secondary coach from 2000–2001.
Allen got his first NFL coaching gig with Atlanta in 2002 assisting with the defensive backs. That year, the club tied for third in the NFL with 24 interceptions and improved from 30th vs. the pass in 2001 to 16th the following year. He then took over as defensive assistant/quality control, with emphasis on working with the defensive line. Over his last two years in Atlanta, the Falcons’ defensive line was the anchor of the defense. In 2004, Atlanta led the NFL for the first time in club history with 48 sacks and the unit sent DE Patrick Kerney to the Pro Bowl. In 2005 DT Rod Coleman represented the club in the postseason all-star game and the Falcons notched 37 sacks.
He joined the Saints as assistant defensive line coach in 2006 and was promoted to secondary coach in 2008. In 2006, the Saints' defensive line combined for over 290 tackles, 28.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. The season was highlighted by the Pro Bowl selection DE Will Smith.
Dennis Allen has served under Wade Phillips, Sean Payton and now, John Fox.
Mike McCoy - Offensive Coordinator
So what should Bronco fans expect out of the Offense under the new regime. John Fox is more of a "run first" kind of coach and the last Broncos head coach was a pass happy fool. Here's what Mike chose to say:
"We're going to add plenty of new things, don't get me wrong, and there's going to be plenty of new concepts in the passing game, some new wrinkles in the running game, some things that we did in Carolina back in the days from 2002 till 2008 when I left that (offensive line coach) Dave Magazu taught for a number of years when he was there. So there are some things that we're going to carry over there."
By the way Training Camp was conducted with a hands off approach by John Fox, I dare say that Mike McCoy will likely have the say-so regarding the Denver Broncos Offense.
Jeff Rodgers - Special Teams Coordinator
Jeff Rodgers enters his 8th NFL season after working for John Fox in Carolina for two years, including serving as the Panthers’ Special Teams coach in 2010. Under Rodgers in 2010, Carolina’s Special Teams posted improvements in nearly every statistical category from the previous season, including punt return average (9.6), kickoff return average (21.9) and opponent starting field position after kickoffs (25.0). He also spent 5 seasons coaching Special Teams with San Francisco from 2003-07 before a one-year stint as the Special Teams Coordinator at Kansas State University in 2008. Rodgers started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Arizona from 2000-01.
In between the 49ers and Panthers, Rodgers served as the special teams coordinator in 2008 at Kansas State, where he elevated the special teams units to among the nation's best. The Wildcats led the country in blocked kicks with a school-record nine, blocked punts with four and kickoff coverage with an opponents’ average drive start of the 21.9-yard line. Kansas State also scored six special teams touchdowns, including five on punt returns. Additionally, Rodgers coached two players who earned All-Big 12 honorable mention: kick/punt returner Brandon Banks and kicker Brooks Rossman.
Jeff previously gained NFL experience with San Francisco from 2003-07, working as the Special Teams Quality Control coach for two seasons before being elevated to assistant Special Teams coach in 2005. In 2007, he helped Pro Bowl punter Andy Lee finish first in the NFC and 2nd in the NFL in net punting with an average of 41.0 yards and set a league record with 42 punts inside the 20. The 49ers also ranked first in the NFL in kickoff coverage with an opponents’ average drive start of the 24.9-yard line. During the 2005 season, kicker Joe Nedney established a team record with a 92.9 percent Field-Goal percentage, converting 26-of-28 Field-Goal Attempts, while the Niners kickoff coverage unit stood 3rd in the league. Long snapper Brian Jennings was named to the Pro Bowl in 2004, and in Rodgers’ first year with San Francisco, they led the NFL with 5 Special Teams take-aways.
Rodgers played linebacker at North Texas from 1996-99, where he earned his degree in business, specializing in entrepreneurship and strategic management. He broke into coaching at the University of Arizona as a graduate assistant on Defense, assisting with the Secondary in 2001 and flex Linebackers in 2002. Jeff has served under Dennis Erickson and Mike Nolan.
That does it for the "Big 4" on the Denver Broncos Coaching Staff. Part 2 will continue by looking at the Position Coaches. Until then...