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Broncos' Fox has much work to do

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Alex Mayster
Editorial assistant

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Posted Jan. 13, 2011 @ 5:44 p.m. ET
By Alex Mayster

Broncos executive VP of football operations John Elway announced via Twitter that John Fox has agreed to become the 14th head coach in the franchise's history.

"I am very thankful to Pat Bowlen and John Elway for giving me the opportunity to coach a football team with such a proud tradition," Fox said in a statement. "The Broncos have a culture of winning, and I am excited to continue that legacy. I can't wait to get to work, pushing our players to be the best they can be and representing this community as head coach of the Broncos"

In three separate tweets, Elway voiced his excitement to have Fox on board.

"He is a dynamic and proven leader who will energize our entire organization."

"John has coached great defenses, turned teams around and been to Super Bowls."

"We couldn't be more excited to have him lead the Denver Broncos."

Fox interviewed with the team on Wednesday and beat out Jaguars offensive coordinator Dick Koetter, Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison for the position. Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and Broncos interim coach Eric Studesville also interviewed, but were believed to have fallen out of the running.

Fox, who reportedly signed a four-year deal, is reportedly working feverishly to assemble a coaching staff. It remains to be seen how many coaches come with him from Carolina, where Fox recently was let go after nine seasons as the Panthers' head coach.

The PFW spin

With a new head coach now in place, the Broncos can finally move forward in their quest to restore the integrity of the organization.

Other than Fewell's interim role with the Bills, Fox was the only candidate interviewed that had NFL head-coaching experience, and he was likely chosen for that reason. Fox stepped into a similar situation with the Panthers in 2002, who also had the No. 2 pick in the draft. He selected DE Julius Peppers, and two years later, the pair led Carolina to the Super Bowl.

Prior to being hired, Fox told a PFW Insider: "I think I have a blueprint that we executed in Carolina and I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work here in Denver."

But the Broncos' defense ranked dead last in the league a season ago and will need a lot of work to match the strong Carolina "D" from earlier in the decade. The first question Fox will need to answer is: what type of defensive scheme will he ru?

The return of OLB-DE Elvis Dumervil will certainly help, but outside of him and ILB D.J. Williams, the team doesn't have much to speak of in its front seven. The Broncos took OLB-DE Robert Ayers with their top pick in 2009, but he hasn't overwhelmed anybody and has yet to prove he can play defensive end in a 4-3 defense. Fox has always been a 4-3 guy, with the Panthers and as the Giants' defensive coordinator from 1997-2001, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out.

On the offensive side of the ball, Fox has preferred to use veteran players and is known as a conservative, old-fashioned coach. That could mean drastic changes for an offense that leaned heavily toward the pass under former head coach Josh McDaniels. It seems highly unlikely that QB Tim Tebow and RB Knowshon Moreno are going anywhere, so Fox might have to slightly adjust his style.

That could start with his coordinators.

Mike McCoy, who is the Broncos' current offensive coordinator, was with the Panthers from 2000-08 and was promoted from offensive assistant to quarterbacks coach when Fox took over in Carolina. McCoy, who has been mentioned for the vacant offensive coordinator position in Kansas City, was not expected to return prior to Fox's hiring but that could change considering the familiarity between the two.

Jim Mora's name reportedly has been brought up as a potential defensive coordinator, and Danny Smith, whose contract as the Redskins' special-teams coach has expired, has been a guy Fox has attempted to add to his staff in the past.

In the end, Fox was brought in for his experience and his willingness to stay out of personnel matters. While he will attend the NFL Scouting Combine and all-star games and do all of the necessary scouting, Fox has never been one to command power in that department and has generally stuck to the X's and O's.

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