Fox’s conservative philosophy is miles apart from Manning’s no-huddle offense. How will the two blend in their first season together?
The two might not even make it to their honeymoon.
Peyton Manning joins some spectacular company when it comes to star quarterbacks who have changed teams late in their careers. Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Joe Namath and Johnny Unitas all found new homes as their late 30s approached, however, none of them were able to win another Lombardi Trophy.
Coming back from a questionable neck injury at the age of 36 won’t help Peyton. Neither will his new head coach John Fox.
Peyton may be joining some of the greatest ever in Favre, Montana, Namath and Unitas, but he’s been moved to the kiddy table to sit with Fox and his previous quarterbacks: Rodney Peete, Matt Moore, Chris Weinke, Jimmy Clausen, Vinny Testaverde (he was 44), Randy Fasani, Kyle Orton, Brian St. Pierre and (sound the trumpet) TIM TEBOW!
Here’s my analogy: Peyton Manning is to John Fox as the new iPhone is to my dad.
My dad got his first iPhone the other day, and ever since, hasn’t stopped bombarding me with questions. He’s like every other new Apple user (myself included); he’s simply overwhelmed by the incredible piece of technology before him. I’m going to be the one who has to transfer all of his contacts, download all of his music and find all his favorite apps.
No joke, I listened to him sample about 30 different ringtones yesterday.
Fox has no clue how to use Peyton Manning’s technology, and the scariest part is, neither does anyone on his coaching staff.
Quarterbacks Coach Adam Gase
A huge part of coaching in the NFL is bringing a core group of assistant coaches wherever you go. But in terms of a passing game, Fox’s staff is blindfolded, playing pin the tail on the donkey.
ProFootballTalk recently described how Manning is teaching Denver’s quarterback coach Adam Gase more than Gase is teaching Manning. Get this: Manning is taking orders from a guy two years younger than him; a guy who has never played a single down in college or the NFL.
All Gase brings to the table is the experience he gained coaching the Detroit Lions’ quarterbacks from ’03-’08. Do I have to spell it out for you? That means the best talent he has seen is Joey Harrington, Dan Orlovsky, Jon Kitna and Jeff Garcia.
I’ll take Manning’s left arm over those four.
So if Gase isn’t helping Manning, then who is? Surely the offensive coordinator will have the experience needed for the high-profile athlete. Let’s Google “Mike McCoy” and see how this plays out.
Let’s see…played quarterback at Long Beach State…OK, OK…a couple seasons in the CFL…alright…been coaching since 1999…wait, with the Carolina Panthers???
What is the deal?
You’re telling me Fox brought the same guy he had in Carolina to teach Peyton Manning how to run an offense? What’s he going to do, explain the difference between a three and five-step drop?
The relationship between Peyton and his coaching staff should be an interesting one. Manning has had three head coaches and only one offensive coordinator in his tenure with the Colts, so things could get testy if the Broncos struggle early.
Is this one big power struggle waiting to happen? Will Fox succumb to Manning staying on the field on fourth-and-three from the 50-yard line? Will Manning accept his responsibilities if Fox wants to run the ball 35 times in a game?
I will give Fox credit for the adjustments he made when Tim Tebow took over the duties at quarterback (slash-running back). But the question becomes, will Fox be as flexible if he’s forced to budge in the opposite direction?
These are uncharted waters for both men, so there’s really no telling what will happen in Denver.
In 2007, Jake Delhomme was forced to have Tommy John surgery to repair his injured right elbow, and after that, he was never quite the same.
John Fox expected him to play like his normal self, but the arm strength simply wasn’t there. The play calling never changed, and the Panthers suffered because of it.
I’m worried that Fox will handle Peyton’s injury in the very same manner. Already, the two seem to be on different pages.
Manning has said he is not quite 100 percent at this point in training camp, and that he still has a lot more work and rehab to do.
Fox, however, feels differently, saying:
Physically, he looks the same to me as he’s always looked.
That, to me, says it all. Fox may be telling the media what they want to hear, but he needs to start listening to his leader if things are going to improve.
He needs to understand that it’s entirely possible we never see the same No. 18 again. There’s going to be a lot of risk involved in playing Peyton this season, and he needs to beware of all that that entails.