as a QB. In his first game as a QB he went 1-8 passing for 14 yards
with a pick and was pulled from the game.
In his first big act as a VP he landed an experienced head coach
with good playoff experience and a penchant for having a good defense.
I have long believed that coaches in the NFL can be boiled
down to these categories:
|Things may be looking|
up in Denver.
1) Good coaches who win with talented teams.
2) Good coaches who can't win with under-talented teams.
3) Bad coaches who can't win with a team that is good or bad.
This is not scientific.
I haven't spent hours going through records to verify this.
It's just an opinion I have formed based on conversations
with guys who played in the league and coached
in the league.
Mike Shanahan had talented teams, they won.
John Elway retired and Terrell Davis got hurt,
and suddenly Mike was as generic as the next guy.
So let's look at Fox's career in Carolina.
2002: 7-9 with a 36-year old Rodney Peete at the helm. Someone
named Lamar Smith as their running back. The defense allowed 302 points,
good for 5th best.
2003: 11-5 with a trip to the Super Bowl. Impressive road playoff wins
at St. Louis and at Philly to get there. Jake Delhomme emerges as a legit
QB, Steve Smith breaks out as a star WR and Stephen Davis runs over
people to the tune of 1,444 yards. The defense gives up 304 yards, good for
2004: 7-9. Delhomme still solid but injuries basically take Smith and Davis
off the team for the entire season. Nick Goings is their primary back.
The defense regresses a bit with 339 points, 15th in the league.
2005: 11-5 and a trip to the NFC title game. Impressive playoff road wins
at the Giants and at the Bears. The defense returns to form, allowing
just 259 points. 5th best in the NFL. Steve Smith comes back to have a
huge year, Delhomme has his best season and Foster and Davis make
for a nice running duo.
2006: 8-8. 305 points allowed, good for 8th. Chris Wienke starts 3 games
at QB, with the team going 1-2 in those starts. The offense was healthy
for the most part. This is the first year on Fox's resume that pushes my theory a bit.
2007: 7-9. 86-year old Vinny Testaverde starts more games at QB than
any other Panther. That ain't good.
The offense can't stay on the field so the defense drops to 15th
in the league with 347 points allowed. Julius Peppers goes from a
guy who gets double digit sacks every year to recording just 2.5
2008: 12-4. Delhomme plays every game and turns in a decent season.
Their run game lead by Stewart and Williams churns out 2,437 yards and
a league best 30 TD's. Steve Smith has another monster year.
Julius Peppers bounces back with 14.5 sacks and the D is ranked
12th with 329 points allowed.
2009: 8-8 after starting 0-3 with 12 turnovers in those 3 games.
Delhomme no longer knows how to play QB. Matt Moore comes
in and holds his own. The running game is great with two 1,000 yard backs.
They allow a 9th best 308 points, but the quarterback play kills them.
2010: no need to really re-visit this year. we all know.
I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on the Panthers, but a
brief look at the John Fox era supports my general point.
When his teams are talented, he's in the mix.
A 4-1 record in road playoff games is pretty impressive.
His teams are usually good defensively and have finished
in the top 10 in sacks 5 times.
This is one of those things that sounds obvious and dumb, but I really feel
it's true. Very few coaches are ever going to win with bad or average teams,
so what do they do when handed a good one? I think John Fox has
succeeded in that situation, so I am excited he is the new Broncos coach.
Now all Fox needs is for John Elway to put a talented team on the field.