Nobody talks about John Fox.
The head coach of the 9-3 Denver Broncos is poised to take his team to the playoffs for the second straight season. That puts him in rather rarified air among his peers, yet he receives precious little recognition in the local media, much less nationally. He’s persona non grata.
Aside from his decision to elevate Tim Tebow to the starting quarterback position in 2011, Fox is given little to no credit for Denver’s successes. Rather, his quarterbacks are sited as the architects of the Broncos recent runs. Tebow certainly seemed to create wins out of thin air, but it was John Fox and his coaching staff that adapted to the fluky QB’s playing style literally on the fly, putting him in a position to win. More recently, Fox and Company have completely reworked the Broncos offensive system to best fit Peyton Manning’s style.
It’s difficult to imagine a Head Coach finding success with two more vastly different signal callers. Still, Fox isn’t given much credit, and he doesn’t seem to mind. Fading into the background and attracting as little attention as necessary appears to be Fox’s modus operandi. In fact, his entire staff seems to follow the same pattern. Aside from their obligatory post-game comments and scheduled weekly pressers, Denver coaches offer little in terms of sound bites.
When John Fox was hired by the Broncos he was coming off a dismal final season with the Carolina Panthers. They had gone 2-14 and were one of the most dismal teams in the NFL. But Fox had success there, and plenty of it. During his nine seasons as Carolina’s head man he took the Panthers to a Super Bowl, an NFL Championship game and lost once in the Divisional round. His career record with Carolina was 73-71, not too shabby.
Fox’s lineage includes stints as a defensive back coach with San Diego State, Long Beach State, Boise, Utah, Kansas, Pitt, the LA Express, Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers. Is it any wonder Denver’s secondary is so vastly improved? He has also been a defensive coordinator for both the Raiders and the Giants. He is clearly a head coach who’s background is on the defensive side of the ball. This could explain why quarterbacks have been the faces of his offenses here.
John Fox seems content to remain Mr. Anonymous. As long as his Broncos continue winning he will continue to work behind the scenes, garnering as little attention as possible and taking little credit. But it’s time for Broncos fans, if not the rest of the NFL, to recognize the stability Fox has helped bring the franchise. It was not that long ago that Denver was coping with the same uncertainties that currently vex the other teams in the AFC West. The Raiders, Chargers and Chiefs might all replace their coaches soon – and be forced to start over. Any of those teams would be lucky to hire a man as solid as John Fox, Mr. Anonymous.