Denver Broncos: Is John Fox the Catalyst To the Orange Crush's Second Coming?

Chaz MattsonAnalyst IJanuary 14, 2011

Could John Fox be the second coming for the Denver Broncos?
Could John Fox be the second coming for the Denver Broncos?Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

In ancient times… say 34 years ago (to be specific the year was 1977).

A football revolution was born out of the old west in downtown Denver, Colorado.  It was a rush, a crush, and a fever that was a widespread phenomenon.

At the time Orange Crush fever was born, and with it a couple of wins and a simple phrase came to be the mantra of a second rate franchise.

“We Believe!”

So chants of that sacred phrase and many other unmentionables were cast upon the ancient foes for whom were born out of sloth, rebellion, and darkness, most notably the Oakland Raiders.  Those ancient battles laid the ground work for an epic rivalry but more importantly showing that the have not’s could humble even the most notorious, and credible of rivals.

What it took in 1977 was the first coming of a playoff coach to the Mile High City, a man simply known as “Red.”  It seemed a fitting name for a leader of an orange and blue clad gang of good guys out of the old west town.  It was in all essence old west justice with a dash of ancient legend and reckoning.  It was an NFL theme that seemed to follow the tale of David and Goliath.

John Elway, the Mile High Legend himself says “He has great football wisdom.  What this building needed John Fox will be bringing (back to Dove Valley).”

It’s nearly as epic as the parting of the orange and blue sea that encompassed the locker room and fan base just two short off-seasons ago.

All this season needs moving forward is a minor miracle that can transform Tim Tebow from dynamic football player into NFL Pro Bowl quarterback candidate.

Now rest assured John Fox will bring his own fire and dynamics to the Rocky Mountain region, but he won’t have to go far for the thunder and lighting that is common with such transformations.  With Fox’s new team, the Denver Broncos, applying to the NFL league office to have orange become their primary color once again, it seems a perfect storm is brewing for the Mile High City somewhere in the distance, hovering just over the Rockies.

It has all the earmarks of a revival, a breath of fresh air in a down economy, or possibly a second coming.

John Fox is a coach who the Broncos brain trust has banked all their chips on to bring the franchise back from its worst season ever, one that went 4-12.  Now the only real problem with an otherwise epic hire and possible second coming to the Mile High city is that their chosen miracle maker is coming off a 2-14 season of his own.

Fear not young and old backers of the Bronc’s!

What you really wanted to know can be backed up with numbers, better digits than bad, and the thing the franchise will benefit most from is the experience of its new head coach.  As head coach of the Carolina Panthers John Fox posted a 73-71 record even after his dismal 2-14 campaign in 2010.  Carolina was essentially not going to extend his contract short of a Super Bowl run.  Carolina is currently the only NFL franchise rebuilding more than the Broncos.  In the end Jon Fox being released from Carolina came at the right time for the Denver Broncos franchise.

In Carolina Fox had three seasons of 11 or more wins, two .500 seasons, three 7-9 seasons, and one tumultuous final season.  Most importantly, however, to the Denver Broncos is Fox’s ability to get the Broncos back into the playoffs and to the Super Bowl.  Fox lead the Panthers to eight playoff games where he posted a 5-3 record and one appearance in the big game.  Fox’s Panthers narrowly missed upsetting the New England Patriots in the 2004 Super Bowl before they fell 32-29.

This is no longer the era of “The Mastermind” or “The Kid” but rather it’s an unknown, one that has real promise.  It has an appeal that harkens back to the days of old “Red” and his rambling ways, he brought tradition and change to the old gold rush town.  It was a change that transformed one of the most losing franchises of the old AFL and NFL to one of the best teams since.

Now John Fox is the new man on campus, but rest assured this will be short lived as new staff and players will be shuffling into Dove Valley at a break-neck pace.

Now the hire of John Fox was a mild surprise from a month ago, and from taking a pulse of the fan base.  Far and away the coach the Broncos fans voted for most in two non-scientific polls of over 500 pollsters put Jon Gruden as the most popular choice among fans.  In one poll he had an 80% approval rating when teamed with John Elway as a possible resolution to the fallout surrounding Josh McDaniels.  In the other poll Gruden had a 61% rating over any other candidate available.

The polls were conducted on-line at by yours truly; however it appears two things won out for John Fox over time.  One was his 20 plus years of NFL experience, nearly half as a head coach in Carolina.  The other was the perception issues surrounding Jon Gruden as a viable candidate.  Things that probably worked against Jon Gruden were the fact that he has been out of coaching for two years, has a solid gig at ESPN on Monday Night Football, that he has family related issues holding him back from coaching again, the fact that he turned down the Miami Hurricanes and Miami Dolphins among others, and perception that he wants to be a head coach with full control.  Much of that appears to be concrete, however the last point seemed to be a false perception that some local talk show host took a little too far out of fear.

For the Denver Broncos part they essentially were looking for a bargain bin coach on a shoestring budget.  While John Elway emphasized that the Broncos were seeking an experienced head coach, the only real head coach the Denver Broncos interviewed was John Fox.  At the exact moment the Broncos announced the hiring of John Fox as the teams new head coach, I had just completed an article entitled “Are the Denver Broncos really seeking Out the Right Head Coach?”  That article will never see the light of day now however the point behind it will stand clear and it will remain moot. 

The article was centered around making certain that the Denver Broncos were on the right track to hiring the right coach.  The only real point is that John Fox was the only real head coach being interviewed and Jon Gruden among others like Brian Billick or Jim Fassel were never interviewed.  So if by some far stretch John Fox does not pan out those names will be out there haunting the franchise.  It seemed somewhat contrary to the teams new twitter based transparency policy that they would not go the extra mile to interview top notch available candidates.

More than likely however, John Fox will prove to be a good hire.  He is already a far more popular choice than Josh McDaniels ever was.  Fox is stable and consistent, and for a franchise struggling to get back on track it seems this is a solid match.  John Fox like the Denver Broncos still has much to prove to get back on track, and in the game of football that is usually the recipe for success. 

So much like the old saying “We Believe”, there’s a new approach with the Broncos that hasn’t been seen since the Orange Crush days and that is one of a real front office.  The new phrase now is “In John We Trust” it just has a double meaning now.  John Fox will probably be every bit as solid as Mike Shanahan, Dan Reeves, and “Red” Miller were at their best.  Fox certainly has his work cut out to find the right staff, the right approach, and the right stuff to make this team successful once again.

So if it harkens you back to ancient times like catching a wave back 30 some odd years, there seems to be a storm brewing out in the Rockies.  Maybe you believe, maybe you don’t, or maybe you’re on the fence waiting to see.  No matter and not to worry the Orange Crush appears to be on its way back one way or another.  The only question to be answered is simply this: 

Is John Fox the second coming?  



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