John Elway has been on both sides of success. He won back to back Super Bowls, but he tasted the bitterness of Super Bowl losses as well. Now he has to make decisions from the top about what is considered successful from a coaching standpoint. The former Broncos great made a tough decision this week when he concluded that head coach John Fox’s best wasn’t going to be good enough for the Broncos going forward.
The two parties agreed to part ways, but make no mistake, if Elway wanted Fox back then that would have happened. Clearly the General Manager of the Broncos has greater hopes for his team than what Fox was been able to produce in his four years with them. That record of 46-18 would be welcome on most teams, but it was no longer going to cut it for Elway. Actually the regular season numbers were good enough. It was what happened each year in the postseason that got Fox run off.
He did some good things in the playoffs like winning a game with Tim Tebow under center. No disrespect to Tebow, but no other team even gave him a chance to get on the field after he was ushered out of Denver the next year. Fox even managed to get his crew to the Super Bowl last year. The result was the problem. They were not even close to a Seattle team that was a heavy underdog. And many so called experts made a point of saying that Fox was out coached by Pete Carroll in the big game. These “experts” were the same people who picked Denver to win the game in the first place, so I take their opinions with a grain of salt.
John Elway had his share of Super Bowl embarrassments. Three of those games his team got waxed. So he has not forgotten that it can happen to even the best of teams, players, and coaches. But now Elway has to make the hard decisions about what should be accomplished. He can’t wait around to see if a coach is going to finally get over the hump. It was eight years after Elway’s Broncos lost their third Super Bowl before they got back there and actually won the big game. As General Manager, the former QB can’t be that patient.
So, did Fox deserve more time? I say no. He is a hell of a coach. He has a good regular season record for an NFL coach and has taken two different franchises to the Super Bowl. Most teams would be glad to have the man stalk their sidelines. But he was given a Hall Of Fame quarterback in Peyton Manning three years ago. And this season Elway made sure Fox had a much improved defense to work with. The team was in place to at least get back to the Super Bowl. When that didn’t happen, Fox had to be replaced. What would be the point of waiting around another year, especially considering Manning’s window to keep playing is just about closed.
In the NFL, good just isn’t good enough most of the time. If a coach has success then he is not going to ride that wave forever. He has to keep winning to stay employed and that rarely happens. Being an NFL head coach is a great job short term, but eventually you will be fired in most cases. Even the best coaches will feel the sting of losing enough games to get a pink slip. John Fox did a good job in Denver and the franchise was lucky to have him. He just fell a bit short. And in the grind of the NFL, a bit short is enough to send a man packing. It will be interesting to see who gets the gig in Denver now. Also Manning, who’s best hasn’t been good enough in Denver either, may not be there for the new coach once one is hired.