Peyton Manning nailed it when he said of the season "nothing has been normal." Yet this team is cruising along with a 10-2 record in firm control of its playoff destiny. I suppose football can kind of be like cooking in the sense that the right chef is all that is needed to bring the ingredients together into a superb dish or doom it into the annals of craptacular culinary creations i.e. grilled cheese sandwiches off the radiator.
I'm a decent cook myself, not because I've studied how to do it, but because I like to eat good tasting food. Trial and error, this worked, this didn't. Coach Fox has 35 years of coaching experience. He has been a part of two super bowl losing teams either as an assistant or head coach. To say he has been around the block is an understatement. He has worked under Chuck Noll, Bobby Ross, Art Shell, Mike White, Rich Brooks, and Jim Fassel. Three of his assistants have gone on to become head coaches. John Fox knows what works and what doesn't.
If you don't believe me just how important leadership is, take a look out or rival Kansas City. They have many of the same players they did a season ago, but have now netted seven more wins than Romeo Crennel and Scott Pioli did.
Being a defensive minded coach, Fox has a bit of a reputation for being conservative. He probably won't outcoach someone the likes of Bill Belichick, but he will have his team prepared to play week in and week out even when things go off script.
If there is one quality that John Fox brings to the table it is accountability. This by far is the single ingredient responsible for the Broncos success in 2013. Lesser teams void of leadership--especially with a group this young could not deal with the amount of adversity this team has faced and put on the same winning show week by week. From the top down, everyone in this organization is accountable.
If you have ever worked with someone who takes the lead it can be a mixed bag. Sometimes the best leaders are the ones who know their people intimately and will delegate tasks so that their people can carry out the job to the best of their abilities. Fox has input, but he also allows his assistants and coordinators to do their job. For accountability to work, everyone has to buy in, and that is much MUCH easier to do when folks feel that their work is important to the overall positive outcome of the organization.
Secondary to accountability is likeability. Players play hard for Fox because they like the guy. Ever have an asshole boss that rode your ass day in and day out no matter what you did? This was someone like Josh McDaniels who alienated his own team shortly after taking the job. Part of it was pedigree, most of it was his approach. Fox is not going to alienate his players. He will go to bat for them and defend them to the hilt. He cares about them. What happened when Derek Wolfe went to the hospital last week with seizure like symptoms? Fox went to visit. He cares, his players know that, and they will move mountains for him.
I spoke earlier about using outcomes as learning experiences. We all remember the debacle last year. With a 7 point lead John Fox instructed Peyton to run the ball three straight times, milk the clock, and kick the ball back to Baltimore--relying on the defense to seal the deal. We all knew it was a mistake. You bring in a 20 million per year GOAT at QB and take the ball out of his hands when the game mattered most? After some time and reflection we saw contrition and an admittance that he would make different, more aggressive decisions in the future.
Fast forward to week 13. The Broncos have averaged about 39 points per game offensively, and have only failed to reach the 30 point plateau twice. Now, it isn't exactly going for it on your own 29 with two yards to convert, but there is something to be said about a lifetime conservative coach allowing his ferrari to roar into the endzone drive after drive. What is this last ingredient Fox brings to the table? Self-awareness.
Accountability, likeability, and self-awareness. These three ingredients have made the Broncos legitimate Super Bowl contenders for the 2nd season in a row. I definitely smell what the Fox is cookin' and it smells like Turkey roasting in the middle of the night, chile simmering in a giant pot just waiting to be rolled into enchiladas, or bacon sizzling on the skillet early in the morning. It's all good Broncos Country, so eat up!
What are some of the things you think John Fox brings to the table as head coach?