Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Peyton Manning and John Fox: It is what it is

So John Fox -- the coach who saddled the Carolina Panthers with 10 games worth of Jimmy Clausen as a starter in 2010 -- now gets one of the best NFL quarterbacks in history to work with in Denver.

Doesn't seem quite right, does it?

But it's apparently true. Peyton Manning -- the most scrutinized and celebrated free agent since Reggie White went to Green Bay in 1993 -- has chosen Denver as his new home, with the contract more or less a formality.

That means Fox and John Elway -- who won his two Super Bowls in Denver in his late 30s and obviously could relate to Peyton in a way no one else in this recruitment process could -- will surely trade Tim Tebow and hand the offense over to Manning. I would, anyway -- can you imagine the circus if the Broncos keep both?

Manning won't be coached in the usual way. He is, after all, is basically his own quarterbacks coach and his own offensive coordinator -- or as close as you could be to one while still playing quarterback. Fox gets a new challenge here, coaching the sort of iconic, first-ballot hall of famer he never has before (Michael Strahan was close, but he didn't play quarterback).

Will Fox like it?
No.
He will love it.

Fox doesn't like to be flexible necessarily, but he can do it if he needs to. He did what he had to do with Tebow last year, and that string of comebacks were remarkable. Ultimately, though, despite all the breathless coverage, Denver was 9-9 in 2011. Fox and Tebow were a shotgun marriage, and neither Fox nor Elway ever bought into that college-style offense longterm. Fox prefers a more traditional dropback quarterback, and he just got one of the best in history.

Of course, it may work out badly. Maybe Manning really can't come back from multiple neck surgeries. Maybe he gets hurt again in the first game and then Denver has traded away Tebow. Then, maybe Fox and Elway both get fired.

But I don't think that will happen. I have always been a Manning fan, both of his mind and his professionalism and his ability. He's still got it -- or else he's well on the way to getting it.

I am a little surprised Peyton wants to play in the Denver cold after being insulated in a dome for so many years in Indianapolis. I am a little surprised he chose Denver over San Francisco, a team that I believe is closer to the Super Bowl today than Denver (at least Denver before Manning decided to come) is.

But it is what it is -- do you think Fox will get Peyton to start saying that one?
I can tell you one thing -- Peyton won't be running the third-and-long draw without a fight. His easy smile masks a huge competitive streak, and he's not going to go along with the "a punt is not a bad play" philosophy.

Fox will once again be stretched, but in a different way this time. Tebow stretched his idea of what a quarterback could do running the ball in the NFL. Manning will stretch the coach's idea of how much control a quarterback should have over the passing offense.
Fox will do fine with it. The guy can coach, especially on defense -- we've all seen that. Now he has a quarterback that he can hand the keys to without inwardly shuddering. It's undoubtedly a relief.

As for how this affects the Panthers -- not much, since Manning will stay in the AFC. But there are two ways I see the Broncos and Panthers possibly interacting before long:
1) The tickets to the Denver game in Charlotte this season will be very hot.

2) Fox may get one of his folks to at least make a call to his old team and inquire whether DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart might be available at the right price. Fox likes both of his former backs, he likes to collect lots of running backs and the Panthers just signed a third running back themselves in Mike Tolbert.

So it wouldn't hurt for Fox to ask now, would it?

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

You brought up weather as an issue as to question why Manning would want to go to Denver. But you know what? My educated guess if you went back and looked at a good sample of home games in Denver and SF, the weather is actually better in Denver. Way more good weather days in the Mile High City than at Candlestick.

Anonymous said...

So anyone want to start taking bets on how much say John Fox will actually have on offense with Manning there? I think Fox only knows 5-6 different pass plays. Ha! Luckiest guy in the NFL this week!

Anonymous said...

Manning and Elway will tell Fox to shut up and sit down. Then they will show Fox how football is played in the NFL and somehow Fox will get credit for it.

Anonymous said...

Move Tebow to Tight End and go get Williams from the Panthers and you have a superbowl team. Peyton can make anyone catch at tight end and Tebow can run!

Anonymous said...

Now I am excited to see the Broncos come to Charlotte!

Anonymous said...

Was the shot at Clausen really necessary? Are you saying Fox was starting him when there were better options? Can we just move on from a time that was difficult for all concerned?

Stephen said...

My Broncos prediction:

1st Down: Run the ball up the middle
2nd Down: Run the ball up the middle
3rd Down: Attempt a pass
4th Down: Punt

Good luck to Manning, he should have retired a millionaire at his peak. I'd be surprised if he is able to play as well as he once did.

Anonymous said...

You are a jerk.

Why take a shot at Fox and Clausson when it was clearly Hurney and Richardson responsible for the awful team. You got Fox fired so move on.

Anonymous said...

Denver had to tell Manning Fox will stay out of the offense. Fox needs to do whatever Manning tells him. He needs to let it go. Manning won't put up with running up the middle the first 2 downs and then passing on 3rd and 7. Fox's idea of offense is so predictable, you really don't even need a playbook. But he was able to roll the dice with Tebow, shouldn't be much different with Manning.

Anonymous said...

If there is one coach who can hold back Manning, it will be Fox and his run first, run second and draw third down attack. I expect a clash with Manning and Fox the first time Manning changes the play at the line.

Anonymous said...

Seems like a there is a lot of bitterness in Scott's column and among the comments. Foxy had nothing to do with Jerry's "Youth Year of 2010" and had to play Claussen since he had no options. Foxy has seen more front office and on-the-field action in one year at Denver than he saw in 8 at Carolina.

Michael Bacon said...

At first I was skeptical, but it might actually work out. Fox is a good coach whose players like playing for him, but he's fairly incompetent at game management. (See two point conversion attempt in Super Bowl, failed trick play on kickoff against Vikings, punting late in games when down two scores then going for it on ridiculous occasions, etc.) If there's one thing Manning's better at than anyone else, it's managing a game. If Fox actually swallows his pride and lets Manning do that, they could do a lot of winning. If Fox puts the handcuffs on Manning, this is a 8-8 one-year marriage and an ugly divorce waiting to happen.

Anonymous said...

Stephen is right, run run run punt...that has always been John Fox's philosophy and only when down late in a game does he unleash the "dreaded" pass play. Manning with Fox in Denver does not fit. Broncos go 7-9 and Fox gets fired. Then in 2013-2014 season, with Bill Cowher coaching the team, the Broncos return to the Super Bowl.

Anonymous said...

Charlotte has a good quaterback in cam newton he still has a lot to learn but when he does he will be a great ouaterback . Let Tebow go to florida where they will appreciate him they need a good QB and tim tebow will be great also

Anonymous said...

fox is undoubtedly the most boring nfl coach in the history of nfl coaches. I would rather endure a lifetime of 0-16 seasons than to watch another single game from this slug. good luck and go panthers.

Anonymous said...

Got to remember who wrote this article, one of the worst sports writers in the country :), It is what it is

Anonymous said...

This is a HUGE risk for Manning. will Fox butt out??? if he doesnt butt out then i could see an issue with this, but if this works then it's likely that Fox kept his nose out of the offense.

Anonymous said...

Fox and Manning together how will that ever work. You have a coach who has never believed a Tight End is for anything but Blocking and a Quarteback that has relied on DAllas Clark and Jacob Tamme. Peyton will have to be the Offensive Co-Ordinator also and call his own plays.

Anonymous said...

Happy for Fox.. He was a good coach unfortunately with an uncompetitive team. He has the perfect foil to his defensive strenght Hope he wins a super bowl or two with Manning and then the Hardware comes to Cam in Charlotte.

I think they should move tebow to running back or use him like Armati Edwards

Anonymous said...

Scott-

Speaking as an ex-Charlottean now living in Denver, have you ever been to Denver during football season? It's almost always sunny here, it doesn't snow NEARLY as much as you think it does (and when it does snow, it's usually gone in a few days), and it's usually in the 40s and 50s Nov-Dec. I've even played golf many times around Christmas wearing short sleeves.

I'd even go so far as to say the winters here are more tolerable than those back in Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

Fox will not have a run,run,run, punt offense in Denver. No way! Fox may be the coach, but Elway runs that team and being a former gun slinger himself, he will not be happy if that is all Fox can come up with. If that's the case, why the heck go after such a prolific passer like Peyton and give him 96 Million Dollars to run,run,run, punt.

Anonymous said...

You Fox haters realize he wasn't always a run, run, draw, punt kind of guy, right? Back when we had good Delhomme, our offense was actually really good and Muhsin and Smitty got off. Fox was turned into an ultra-conservative coach when he was given the option of Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen - I would have hoped the 3rd and long draw worked, too. Fox is a heck of a coach, and because of the way things ended in Carolina, you all think he's horrible. Is he conservative? Yeah, but not to the extent you all claim. Give the man some credit - you can't allow your quarterbacks to throw the ball in an obvious passing situation when they can't get the ball to their intended receiver...

Anonymous said...

Time to go to vegas with Fox as head coach and old man manning at the helm. I'm not sure if manning can hit the side of a barn, let alone a streaking end.