The Denver Broncos got some pretty startling news on Saturday night. Sitting pretty with a 7-1 record and ready to enjoy a much-earned bye week, the team, and public, were informed that head coach John Fox will be missing an extended period of time to receive heart valve surgery.
According to ESPN's NFL insider Adam Schefter, Fox could miss up to two months.
Latest on Broncos HC John Fox and heart valve surgery he needs that could sideline him up to two months. http://t.co/ZCE6skrjZj
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 3, 2013
This is obviously a huge blow for the Denver Broncos, who have been thriving this season under Fox's management. Fox is one of the league's most respected coaches, as you simply cannot find a record anywhere of anyone speaking ill of him. He's focused and tough yet comes off as calm and easy-going; all of these are attributes you love to see in a coach.
While Fox's absence will certainly be felt, it doesn't mean that Denver will suffer. They have many factors, actually, that should bode well for them in this situation.
First off, they have a veteran on-field leader in quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning, who can run an offense as well as any coordinator in the league, would keep his unit intact and running well even if I were to coach the team. The Denver offense need not worry.
The defense, however, is where Denver needs to prepare more for the change. Fox is a defensive specialist who has a heavy hand in the management of the team's defense. One of the decisions he's made for the unit may be the decision that saves them in his absence: the hiring of former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack del Rio as defensive coordinator.
While del Rio's coaching record is nothing to gawk at, he is still a respected coach around the league and he has eight years of head coaching experience. To have a coordinator on your squad with this much experience is a rare treat, and Denver should, and will, take full advantage of this circumstance.
Although it has not yet been announced, del Rio will likely be named the team's interim head coach, and the machine that is the Denver Broncos should continue to keep on running without incident.
In the meantime, everyone around the league, from fans to players to coaches, are simply hoping that Fox's surgery goes well and that he makes a speedy recovery back to the office.