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Denver Broncos: 10 Biggest Changes Expected in the John Fox Era

Joe Rapolla Jr.Featured ColumnistJune 15, 2011

Denver Broncos: 10 Biggest Changes Expected in the John Fox Era

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    ENGLEWOOD, CO - JANUARY 14:  Denver Broncos head coach John Fox addresses the media at Dove Valley on January 14, 2011 in Englewood, Colorado. Fox was named the 14th head coach in Broncos history yesterday after spending the last nine seasons as head coac
    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    After going a dismal 4-12 last season, the Denver Broncos need to get back on traffic. Despite having a high scoring offense last season, Denver suffered from a defense that ranked near the bottom of the league and poor leadership in ex-head coach Josh McDaniels.

    Now that defensive schemer John Fox has been hired to run the team, Denver looks to turn around that side of the ball and get back to being a competitive football team.

    A lot needs to be taken care of in Denver, but hope is not lost and success is not far away.

10. Kyle Orton on Another Team

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    GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 12: Quarterback Kyle Orton #8 of the Denver Broncos stands on the sideline during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 12, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Kyle Orton has been fantastic for Denver and in my mind is the most underrated quarterback in football. 

    With the Broncos having traded up to draft college star Tim Tebow, however, it is just not efficient to have both him and Orton on the roster. Orton has very high trade value, and it is in the Broncos favor to do this and use the imports, whether players or draft picks, to their advantage. 

9. A Refined Tim Tebow

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    DENVER - JANUARY 2:  Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos warms up before a game against the San Diego Chargers at INVESCO Field at Mile High on January 2, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Tim Tebow and Jake Delhomme are very different quarterbacks from very different backgrounds. 

    Tebow is a high profile star who was drafted high with a lot of expectations. 

    Delhomme played for five years in NFL Europe and came into the league as an unknown. 

    In terms of similarities, however, they both possess an unconventional throwing style, a weaker arm than most quarterbacks, and a lot of critics. 

    Delhomme was able to succeed in Carolina under John Fox, however, and Tebow will do the same. Fox knows how to work with an unrefined quarterback with some inaccuracy, and this experience will help Tebow grow. 

8. A Better Division Record

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    OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 19:  J.D. Walton #50 of the Denver Broncos lines up against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 19, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    One area that the Carolina Panthers always succeeded at, even when they had subpar seasons, was playing tough against division opponents. 

    John Fox will instill the importance of division matchups into the minds of Denver players, and the Broncos will improve on this element of their game. 

    Last season, Denver won only one game versus a division opponent. Expect that to change in this and coming seasons in Denver. 

7. Mike McCoy Playing a Prominent Role at Offensive Coordinator

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    DENVER - 2009:  Mike McCoy of the Denver Broncos poses for his 2009 NFL headshot at photo day in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by NFL Photos)
    NFL Photos/Getty Images

    For the past two seasons, Josh McDaniels played prominent leadership role on offense. 

    Now that McDaniels is out and John Fox is in, the role of Mike McCoy, Denver's quiet offensive coordinator, will be more pronounced.

    Fox is a defensive coach who will step aside and allow McCoy to run the offense the way he wants. I think this separation of power will allow for a stronger Denver attack and a better dynamic between McCoy and his players. 

    Also, McCoy and Fox know each other well. He was quarterbacks coach for the Panthers during John Fox's tenure there. 

6. More Emphasis on the Run Game

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    OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 19:  Knowshon Moreno #27 of the Denver Broncos runs with the ball during their game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 19, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Denver has always had a strong rushing attack, yet that has fallen off in the past two seasons. 

    Knowshon Moreno has been average in his two NFL seasons, and when you combine the fact that Kyle Orton is a very good downfield passer and that Josh McDaniels favored an explosive offense, Denver's run game has weakened. 

    Expect that to change in the John Fox era. With Tebow growing and gaining accuracy downfield, Fox and Mike McCoy will run a slower, more pound-it-out offense that features a lot more of Moreno and the other backs not only running, but also taking passes out of the backfield. 

5. A Better Pass-Rush

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    ENGLEWOOD, CO - APRIL 29:  Von Miller of the Denver Broncos is presented to the media for the first time with vice president of football operations John Elway at Dove Valley on April 29, 2011 in Englewood, Colorado. Miller, a projected outside linebacker
    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    This will be as much a product of player personnel as well as John Fox's defensive prowess, yet no doubt, Denver will have a better pass rush than last season. 

    The return of Elvis Dumervil and D.J. Williams will be greatly appreciated, as well as the start of rookie Von Miller's tenure in Denver. These three players will all be studs in the defensive end/outside linebacker positions. 

    Talented on their own, these three will thrive even more with Fox's defensive experience and insights. The next step for the Denver pass rush is signing a free-agent defensive tackle. 

4. A More Aggressive Secondary

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    SAN DIEGO - NOVEMBER 22:  Cornerback Champ Bailey #24 of the Denver Broncos intercepts a pass over wide receiver Malcom Floyd #80 of the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on November 22, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Im
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The Denver secondary was, in layman's terms, terrible last season. Their problem is not lack of talent; Champ Bailey is one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Their problem is lack of aggression. 

    The Denver secondary needs to not let the ball come to them but rather go to the ball. They need to focus less on tackles and more on interceptions. Overall, they need to take a more aggressive approach to stopping the pass and John Fox will instill this value. 

    The year that Fox led the Panthers to the Super Bowl, Ricky Manning Jr. and Mike Minter effectively executed this aggressive type of play in Carolina's secondary. 

3. Less Trash Talk

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    DENVER - NOVEMBER 14:  Head coach Josh McDaniels of the Denver Broncos celebrates a touchdown on the sidelines against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second quarter at INVESCO Field at Mile High on November 14, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Denver Bron
    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Josh McDaniels was always talking smack. Whether it be to the media, other players, (Philip Rivers) or other coaches, his mouth was never shut. 

    Many would say that this behavior is borderline classless, and these people are not too wrong. While players can talk trash as an effective method to pump up their team, coaches need to use restraint so that they don't come off as rude or unprofessional.

    John Fox is a model of class and very quiet guy on top of it, so don't expect any headlines about him feuding with other players or coaches. 

2. More Determined Players

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    DENVER - NOVEMBER 14:  The Denver Broncos offensive huddles up to face the Kansas City Chiefs at INVESCO Field at Mile High on November 14, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Chiefs 49-29.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    I really think that while Josh McDaniels is a fantastic offensive coordinator, his age and attitude was a detriment to how much effort his players cared to put into the game. 

    With John Fox, I expect the players to see a coach who has had legitimate success, and they will strive to impress Fox and stand out in his mind as one of the best players he has coached. 

    The Broncos players know that Fox knows how to win, so they will put forth every bit of effort to try to make this happen. 

1. A Head Coach Who Garners Respect

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    ENGLEWOOD, CO - JANUARY 14:  Denver Broncos head coach John Fox addresses the media at Dove Valley on January 14, 2011 in Englewood, Colorado. Fox was named the 14th head coach in Broncos history yesterday after spending the last nine seasons as head coac
    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    As I said in the previous slide, McDaniels' age and attitude made him one of the less respected coaches in the league. 

    He acted childish, so people never forgot the fact that he was just a few years north of 30. His young age made many of his players see a peer, not a mentor, and no team can succeed when their coach does not command respect. 

    Fox is experienced, with many years of coaching under his belt. He is a respected by players and coaches alike throughout the league, and he will be equally respected by his new players in Denver. 

    This newfound respect for their head coach will lead to a more successful team in the John Fox era. Whether this success comes right away or a few years down, the road remains to be seen. 

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