In the sixteenth of Thin Air’s series on considerations for the Broncos Ring of Fame is John Fox (2011-2014).
Who has the highest winning percentage among head coaches in NFL history? It’s not Mike Shanahan (61.6%) or Dan Reeves (59.7%), despite both properly getting top accolades with triple digit win totals in Denver. It’s also not Red Miller (62.7%), who will see his name enshrined in the Ring of Fame this fall.
It’s John Fox, at 69.0%. Let’s list off a few of the things he accomplished in Denver:
- He arrived in the locker room when the Broncos were at their absolute lowest in the Pat Bowlen era. 4-12 seasons are not only unacceptable, but unusual in Denver. Fox was thrown on the front lines into a toxic quarterback situation created by Josh McDaniels, and was able to balance it enough to squeeze out an AFC West title and a playoff win, the first of both for the Broncos in six seasons.
- John Elway rightly gets the lion’s share of credit for luring Peyton Manning to Denver, but Fox should not be forgotten for the coaching aspect of the sales job. Manning is one of the smartest quarterbacks in NFL history, and he knows how much coaching can make or break a career.
- Fox was the root of a fairly impressive coaching tree given the short tenure. Four of his coordinators (Mike McCoy, Dennis Allen, Jack Del Rio, and Adam Gase) received head coaching jobs–three of them as first time head coaches, and three of them going to division rivals desperate to take a chunk out of the Denver muscle they had to deal with.
- In the end, Fox made the playoffs all four seasons in Denver, won the division all four seasons, had double digit wins in three of those seasons, and also won an AFC championship. Compare that to Miller, who also served four seasons in Denver: while also garnering an AFC championship, he made the playoffs only three of those seasons, and won the division only twice.
As long as Elway is in charge (and Fox is still an active coach), don’t expect Fox to receive a Ring of Fame honor any time soon. But with Miller now inducted, a precedent has been set that could be favorable for Fox down the road.