John Fox’s four years in Denver produced four AFC West titles, one Super Bowl appearance — and, still, a feeling of missed opportunity.
After he was hired by the Bears on Friday, the Sun-Times caught up with Denver Post columnist Benjamin Hochman for insight about Fox’s tenure in the Mile High City, and what Bears fans should expect from their new coach:
1. The Bears probably need to send Andrew Luck a thank-you beard trimmer after John Fox left the Broncos Monday. And while we both know one man’s trash is another’s coaching treasure, why didn’t Fox work in Denver? Or did he, but only to a point?
The John Fox Broncos were the Bobby Cox Braves – wildly talented regular-season studs who inexplicably faltered annually in the playoffs. Looking back at the talent and health of Denver this January — and two Januarys prior — it’s mind-boggling that Fox’s Broncos didn’t win their first playoff game. After a bye week. While playing at home.
Give Fox credit for reviving the Broncos, who were in disarray after the Josh McDaniels debacle. And they won the division every year – though, it’s really a three-team division with the Raiders as the Vanderbilt of the AFC West.
But Fox couldn’t get his guys to peak in the playoffs, and now he’s flying into Chicago instead of on a team flight to New England. As we look back, it’s crazy to think that Foxy came closer to winning a Super Bowl with Jake Delhomme than with Peyton Manning.
As for Luck’s beard, that thing sits on his chin like a ferret in a hammock. By Sunday, it’ll be thick enough to double as a Baby Bjorn.
2. Was the breakup Fox’s fault? No. 7’s? Or a Seinfeld-ian mutual parting?
Well, the big question here is – just how hurt was Peyton during the game against the Colts? If Peyton was truly hurt, then the outcome was (perhaps) understandable. Still, Fox couldn’t adjust with eight other Pro Bowlers and a budding running game, so that loss is really on the coach.
I think John Elway (that’s No. 7) would’ve fired him on Monday, and I think Fox wanted out on Monday. So after losing, a win-win, I suppose.
3. Give me three things a John Fox team does well. And a few things they don’t.
He’s a player’s coach, quick with a joke or an anecdote or an uplifting chat. His personality can be infectious, and during the grind of a season, that’s important. He’s clearly a defensive mastermind, and offensively has shown the ability to adjust mid-stream, such as the Tim Tebow season, in which Denver abandoned the pass, or this season, in which Denver started running the ball more.
Clearly, he wasn’t the best at having his Denver teams to rise to the occasion in the postseason. I don’t know if that’s Xs and Os or motivation or how he handled things in the weeks leading up, but the past two seasons have ended in disastrous losses.
4. What’s he like, personality-wise?
He can be “Uncle Foxy,” always quick with a quip, but he’s also a serious, caring football man.
5. Will he be a different kind of coach without Peyton Manning? Is that a good thing? Bad thing?
There was some questioning to the hierarchy involving the Denver offense – like, who’s the boss? Fox? Manning? Mona? (Editor’s note: yes, that’s a ‘Who’s the Boss?’ TV show joke). It can get that way when your quarterback is as smart and powerful as the head coach and coordinator.
Chicago should be a good fit for him – and if he ever wins a Super Bowl, he’ll be remembered not only as the coach to win a Super Bowl, but to do so with Winnie The Pooh’s Eeyore at quarterback.