Leaving it up to a coin flip is apparently giving yourself a puncher’s chance Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! You know, John Fox has done a very good job managing this team and its personalities for two seasons. Two division titles and 21 regular-season wins for a franchise that had gone 4-12 prior to his arrival speaks volumes.

But aside from the team's success in the W-L columns, one of the most laudable hallmarks of his tenure has been his flexibility. That a head coach was willing to switch from a modern passing offense to a 1950s-era one because his quarterback couldn't read defenses or throw the ball with consistency said a lot about the man.

Fox even one-upped himself by helping convince one of the greatest QBs of all time to come to Denver, and then showing himself willing to fully adopt that player's offense. He pulled all of this off even while working with a new defensive coordinator each season.

So what did Fox have to say Monday in his season-ending presser with John Elway (Video Part 1, Part 2, BTV)?

As a coach and, I know John as a competitor, you relive it, you redo it, you second-guess, you I don't know how to explain it, but it stings. They call them scars. You remember it because it doesn't go away, like most scars. And you learn from it. You say, 'I made a mistake ... I'm going to fix it and then not let it happen again.

Unfortunately, it's not clear he was referring to his own decisions from Saturday, and his comments about the choice to kneel out the clock at the end of regulation would suggest he wasn't:

I’d do it again 10 times if it presented itself in that situation.

Does that sound like a man who's learning from his mistakes? Not to us it doesn't. He likened his team after Baltimore had tied the game to a boxer who'd just been stunned:

You watch a 71-yard bomb go over your head, there’s a certain amount of shock value, a little bit like a prize fighter who gets a right-cross on the chin at the end of a round. You’re looking to get out of the round. That may not be the ideal time to go for the knockout punch.

One of the things when you coach players and you’re around them … you get a little bit better feel for where they’re at. The look in their eye, it was pretty devastating. It just didn’t seem like the right time, it wasn’t the right look understandably to go for the jugular right about then.

The problem here, of course, is that even with the new OT rules, there's no guarantee you'll ever get to touch the football again, as we were just discussing with the 2011 Pittsburgh Steelers. That you have one of the greatest QBs, and comeback QBs, of all time running your offense, is the cherry on top of that easy decision sundae.

For his part, John Elway stood by Fox's call, at least publicly:

To me, that was a good move to be able to regroup, get ourselves back together and start the overtime period. I thought we did the right thing.


A melange of analysis of John Fox's decision-making from Saturday:

Terry Frei:

If you're thinking that the continued focus on the kneel-down decision is excessive, because there were so many other issues in the Broncos' 38-35 double-overtime loss to the Ravens, I get that. But after hearing Fox's explanation Monday, I became more convinced that it wasn't just about the decision, but also the concessions and attitude it represented. Fox used boxing analogies to explain how the Broncos were reeling and accepting just getting through the round — to overtime.

He said that after assessing his team, he decided it wasn't appropriate "to go for the jugular right then."

Yes, it was.

Jeff Legwold:

But with temperatures having dipped below 10 degrees by that time, the Broncos' best chance to win on a night when their defense simply could not prevent the Ravens from scoring on a wide-range of big plays may have been at that moment...

And the most difficult thing for the team to address moving forward is most of the people somewhat frozen in the seats Saturday night or the ones screaming at their televisions believe that was the best moment for the Broncos to win the game. They have Manning, after all.

That the Broncos may have asked Babe Ruth to bunt, to move the runner over.

Football Outsiders:


Aaron Schatz: Why on earth was Denver kneeling down instead of trying to get into field-goal range with 30 seconds and two timeouts? What, you don't have faith in your quarterback ... who is Peyton Manning?

Andy Benoit: Broncos kneel down with 0:36 left and two timeouts on a tie game. Hmmmm ... what are you paying Peyton Manning all that money for?

Clark Judge:

I look at what Atlanta did in the last 31 seconds of the fourth quarter and wonder why Denver couldn't try the same thing with 31 seconds left Saturday. The Broncos didn't even try. They had two of their timeouts, yet chose to take a knee and go to overtime. Huh? "The thinking was with 30 seconds it's hard to go the length of the field," said coach John Fox. But they didn't have to, and Atlanta just proved it. Plus, isn't that why Denver signed Peyton Manning, for moments like this?

Scott Kacsmar:

Now many thought John Fox blew it when he had Manning take a knee after getting the ball at the 20 with 0:31 and two timeouts left. What Atlanta did in this situation the next day fueled that thought.

Personally, the Captain is fine with what Denver did. The chances were likely better in modified overtime anyway. On a cold day with a tougher field goal range, when Manning was not hitting downfield throws, against a good defense, you do not want to force things.

Interestingly enough Manning has been in this position in all three of his overtime playoff losses. In Miami (2000) he handed off to Edgerrin James once at his own 20 with 0:28 left. In San Diego (2008) he had 0:24 at his own 19. He threw two short passes, one deep one, then just took a knee.

Joe Fortenbaugh:

With so many different individuals tasked with running the various aspects of a professional football franchise, wouldn’t it make sense to put somebody on the payroll who specializes in the intricacies of game management? When to call timeouts, when to go for two, when to challenge. How many games have we seen lost or severely compromised because of tactical blunders committed by a guy with years of experience who should know better?...

Head coaches already have enough on their plates. They have to prepare a game plan, make sure that it is installed properly, oversee the health of their players, make in-game adjustments and deal with the media. There are only so many hours in the day. And when the pressure is mounting and the clock is ticking, it’s easy to see how some of these mistakes can happen.


Obviously, the Broncos plan to pick up the $40M guaranteed option that will cover Manning's salary for the next two seasons.

Pat Bowlen tells the DP he'll "be ticked off for a month" over Saturday, and he says his franchise "learned a lesson" that will help them. Did they, though?

Yes, we're all aware that Fox's decisions had plenty of company among reasons for Denver's loss. Nobody's putting all of this on Fox, and we're not calling for his firing or anything drastic like that. So ditch the strawman, Foxball fans.

Legwold agrees that the Broncos figure to look this offseason at adding players for both lines, at wideout, middle linebacker, and at safety, with needs at defensive tackle and mike backer looming largest.

Anyone surprised to learn that Peyton Manning was the league's best quarterback on third down this season? You know, aside from John Fox?

Turns out there's no rule against taking practice kicks during a game, as Justin Tucker did in OT on Saturday - the only time it would draw a flag is if it delayed the game.

Scott Hastings seems to think there was an NFL-run conspiracy behind Denver's loss, but it's kind of hard to parse through his version of the English language.


New Chiefs GM John Dorsey says he'll take the best player available with the #1 pick, and Andy Reid says KC will be sticking with a scheme that favors 3-4 personnel.

The Bears are said to have narrowed their search to Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell, Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman, and Colts OC Bruce Arians, which means Mike McCoy is out of the running there.

Philly interviewed Ken Whisenhunt and is expected to meet with Bruce Arians and Jay Gruden this week, plus Seahawks DC Gus Bradley for a second time.

Bradley will also sit for the Jaguars head job at some point this week, as will Jags DC Mel Tucker and Rams OC Brian Schottenheimer, and again, can anyone tell us how Marty's kid has shown he deserves these opportunities, aside from being Marty's kid?

Just like when they brought back Josh McDaniels last year, the Patriots rehired former assistant Brian Daboll, who ran the Chiefs' woeful offense in 2012. Remains to see if anyone gives a hoot this time, or if that was just special McDaniels-prompted indignation.

Jimmy Raye took the Colts VP of football ops position formerly held by Tom Telesco, who beat him out for the GM gig in San Diego.

Cam Cameron interviewed for the Jets OC job.

The Browns are nearing a stadium naming rights deal with FirstEnergy Corp. Of course, the Ohio public that funded just over 2/3 of the stadium's original construction costs won't see a dime of that. At least FE won't be able to pass on the cost of the naming deal to those same customers, which would be a triple whammy.

Meanwhile, the people of South Florida are about to get screwed once again, as they're going to be partially funding improvements to the Dolphins' home stadium after lining Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria's deep pockets.


Brian Burke says that Pete Carroll going for it on 4th-and-1 was a no-brainer, but he thinks the play call was rather terrible.

When the Niners pulled a guard to kick out an edge linebacker, only to have Colin Kaepernick run outside of the block, Pat Kirwan says he saw something completely new that will give defenses trouble, and that the Falcons likely don't have time to prepare for.

Matt Bowen breaks down tape of Kaepernick's Saturday night demolition of the Packers; Doug Farrar looks ahead to Falcons/Niners.

Andy Barall offers his thoughts on the first-time candidates among this year's HOF finalists.

Here's part one of Chase Stuart's prognosis of the LOLJets' near-term future, starting with their defense.

Christmas Ape interprets PK's MMQB and is tired of the media suggesting that midweek trash talk has any impact whatsoever on actual games.

Awful Announcing grades the 2012 performances of the top crew from each network and, of course, finds Jim Nantz and Phil Simms at the bottom of the pile.

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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