There has been mixed reviews to the John Fox hire in Denver. Some hang their hat on his league worst record in Carolina last year and others remember Fox taking the Panthers to the Super Bowl in February 2004. Personally I think the hire was the smart choice and the right one and perhaps the best way to explain why is to point out the differences between the terrible Josh McDaniels hire and this current hire:
1. Experience - John Fox had over 20 years of experience as a defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator before spending the last eight years as coach of the Carolina Panthers. Josh McDaniels was a Patriots assistant from 2001-2004 and then a QB coach and offensive coordinator for five years. He had no prior head coaching experience at any level. Josh got the nod in Denver because people looked at young successful coaches like Mike Tomlin and John Gruden, but it's hard to beat 30 years worth of experience from a guy who is still just 55-years-old like John Fox. Picking a coach with prior NFL head coaching experience was a great choice especially with a team hurting after the mistakes of a young purported genious blew up in the Broncos face.
2. Offense/Defense - The Broncos had some of the brightest young offensive stars in the league with Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and the awesome talents of Ryan Clady. In Shanahan's last season the Broncos witnessed one of the harshest injury rashes an NFL running back core has ever seen, but in Peyton Hillis they found an absolute stud who all savvy fans were excited to see come back from a hamstring injury in the 2009 season. The Broncos defense stunk on ice and couldn't stop anyone. Why the Broncos hired an offensive despot like McDaniels will never be clear, but only Clady remains with the presents former coach being huge question marks going forward. Knowshon Moreno has not impressed and has been a beacon of what happens when you take a running back who isn't Adrian Peterson or Bo Jackson way too high in the draft. Hindsight is 20/20, but the Broncos should have hired Leslie Frazier in 2009 if they wanted to give a young coach his first chance. Now they are getting a defensive coach and there has to be some hope that the defense can return to respectability. My advice is to resign Champ Bailey and forget about drafting LSU's Patrick Peterson as a rookie corner back and pick up Nick Fairley to match up with Elvis Dumervil for a fearsome pass rush.
3. Loyalty - Josh McDaniels learned a terrible habit from Bill Bellichick. Josh saw Bill ship off pro bowl talent on a regular basis. Richard Seymore, Ty Law, and Asante Samuels did all get the boot in New England, but what I think Josh missed was that Bill always had the respect of the remaining players. Bill would never get cross with his franchise QB. McDaniels came to Denver and replaced high level offensive talent with huge athletic downgrades. I credit Kyle Orton with some huge improvements this last season and Brandon Lloyd really impressed, but overall how can the Broncos players not resent sending good players out to bring less talented guys in? Some people might think it is a fault, but when John Fox stuck with Jake Delhomme through his struggles it was a demonstration of good leadership. Steve Smith and Jake took that team to the Super Bowl and, if you remember those playoffs in 2004, they were both playing out of their minds. Jake was matching Tom Brady shot for shot in the Super Bowl and hit some spectacular passes. Hard to say everything that went wrong for Jake, but Fox stuck with him for as long as possible and that means a lot.
At the end of the day, what happens on the football field will determine whether the John Elways hiring of John Fox is a success or a failure, but they worked quickly so that now draft preparations can be put in order. The Broncos are a prideful organization with as good a fan base as any team on earth and glory days will return. Let's hope John Fox is the catalyst.