In the current 9 game win streak there seems to be plaudits all around for the Broncos success. It starts first and foremost with one Peyton Manning. Last year we lucked into the playoffs through a mediocre division and then played one of the greatest Wild Card Games I've ever seen. This year we've had some unlucky breaks (see fumble recovery rate) but have rode our Hall of Fame QB to an 11-3 record. Manning has been brilliant and I can't imagine what we would be like without him.
Jack Del Rio has gotten plenty of plaudits as well as we now have a top 5 defense according to a variety of statistical measures. He is doing a great job of maximizing talents. Von Miller is certainly seen as a Peyton Manning caliber impact on the defense as he vies for defensive player.
But lost in all the love for Peyton Manning, Jack Del Rio, Von Miller, and Champ Bailey, is a little bit of love and respect for John Fox.
I read the message boards: He's too conservative, he's going to cost us a game, he needs to let Peyton call all the plays, he doesn't know offense.
John Fox is doing a great job as a head coach and there are many reasons why.
1. No letdowns
Fox has kept this team on course with a consistent message of getting better each week and focusing on opponents one at a time. Take a moment and realize that we have not let down against one inferior opponent. New England, can't say the same, however, (How on earth did the Patriots lose to the Cardinals)
2. Player Development
Remember all the players left over from the Josh McDaniels era that we thought couldn't play. Robert Ayers, Knowshon Moreno, Wesley Woodyard, Tony Carter, Zane Beadles, J.D. Walton, and to some extent, Kevin Vickerson. All these guys have had their best years under John Fox. You could argue that McDaniels never got a chance to see them blossom, but my belief is that although McDaniels is a good x's and o's guy, he doesn't know how to help a player go from average to good, or good to great. Ayers is now a solid player who can play anywhere on the d-line. Zane Beadles is no longer a liability in pass protection and is one of the best in football as a pulling guard. Kevin Vickerson is at his ideal playing weight and is a force in the run game. Wesley Woodyard is having a pro bowl caliber year. John Fox knows how to get from good to great, and he knows how to put average players in position to maximize their talents. That is coaching!
3. Top 5 Defense
Jack Del Rio is a fine defensive coordinator but if you don't think Fox's hand print is all over this defense than I think you are flat out wrong. The Broncos are largely using the same schemes as last year. It's largely designed to get Von Miller as a Strongside backer up on the line of scrimmage on a majority of downs. Fox has had a reputation for being a top defensive coach for a long time and this year is no different. Remember in 1998, his Giants defense held the prolific 13-0 Broncos to 16 points and the Giants ruined our undefeated season. At Carolina, Fox rode his defense all the way to a Super Bowl.
4. Player Respect
This team loves Coach Fox, evidenced by how they played in Carolina. They wanted to get him the game ball very badly. Players talk all the time what a great coach he is to play for. Peyton Manning jots down Fox's talking points and then re-iterates them throughout the week. As seen by their focus each week, John Fox has the teams full attention.
5. Halftime adjustments
The Broncos are really rocking teams in the 3rd quarter and much credit must go to halftime adjustments. This is not unique to this year because even last year Fox and his coaching staff would recognize how teams were playing them and then come back with a stronger 2nd half. Many of our comeback wins have been due to having a coach who is willing to adjust the game plan as needed. Fox's biggest asset might be his flexibility to adapt his scheme. Whether it's adapting to opponents, or adapting to maximize his own teams strengths.
All in all, John Fox is a great coach and we are lucky to have him. Many people were fooled by his 2-14 record in Carolina the year before he was hired here. Well, how many games would you win with Jimmy Clausen and Brian St. Pierre as your starting QB. Would I like to see him go for it more on 4th down? Absolutely (Secretly I've been hoping Peyton Manning would beat this stubbornness out of him) Would I love to see him go for the jugular more with 4th quarter leads? You betcha! But when you realize what he brings to the table with player development, defensive scheming and halftime adjustments, John Fox is a coach who can take us to the promise land!