What a crazy offseason this has become. From fired coaches to coaches opting out of contracts to our second coach to "agree to part ways" from the team he just recently took to the Super Bowl. First Jim Harbaugh left the San Francisco 49ers and now John Fox and the Denver Broncos have parted ways.
In a statement released through the team, Fox explained, "I had a productive visit with John Elway this afternoon in which we were both very honest about our time together and how to best move forward. After this discussion, John and I mutually agreed that the timing was right for this decision."
He continued, "Although we came up short of our ultimate goal, I am proud of our team's many accomplishments during these last four years. I truly appreciate all of the hard work put in by every player, coach and staff member within this organization."
Denver Vice President of Football Operations John Elway, in the same press release, stated, "John Fox and I met for more than an hour on Monday afternoon to discuss the 2014 season and our goals for the future. During our open and candid conversation, it became clear that it was best for both the Denver Broncos and Coach Fox to move on and make this change.
"On behalf of the Broncos, I sincerely thank John for his many contributions during his four seasons as head coach. He helped establish a positive, winning culture for this team and deserves a lot of credit for the Broncos' turnaround."
On the FOX NFL Sunday pre-game show, NFL analyst Jay Glazer, a friend of the former Broncos coach, predicted this could happen if the Broncos were to lose the game. Glazer continued, explaining on Fox Sports One, "The reason I said that is because I already knew that there was a chance that John Fox was going to come available, just because the working relationship there between he and John Elway, it wasn't the greatest working relationship. With John Elway and John Fox, it started off great, but then it started not working out." Glazer went on to add that part of the stress between Elway and Fox, as well as the entire coaching staff, was Elway's "all or nothing" treatment of this season, with anything else than a Super Bowl win being a disappointment.
The Broncos were one-and-done in the postseason, losing at home in the Divisional Round of the playoffs and giving up their second seed in the AFC. Now a coach who had his team in the Super Bowl last year and finished this past regular season 12-4, tied for the best record in the league, has become a free agent.
That does not mean Fox is desperate for a new job, however. ESPN's Adam Schefter, shortly after the Fox news broke, tweeted that the former Broncos coach had already turned down an interview request from the New York Jets. He later tweeted that the Jets stated they did not make an interview request to Fox. NJ.com adds this morning that Fox would consider the Jets if they were to approach him.
Just another reason to love the offseason.
As for what the Broncos will do, there are conflicting reports that the team may turn to offensive coordinator Adam Gase, promoting him from within. Sports Illustrated's Peter King and the Denver Post's Mike Klis both reported that it is not likely Elway will promote Gase, while Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reports a league source is saying Gase will be considered for the position.
At the end of the day, the coaching search in Denver is now underway, and quarterback Peyton Manning may be the ultimate determining factor in whomever lands the job. If the Broncos want to keep Manning, who struggled down the stretch while dealing with a torn quadriceps muscle in his right leg, they may have to seriously considered Gase, or find someone else who will not change too much of the Broncos' offense. At age 38, Manning may consider any massive upheaval in the Broncos organization as a situation to which he does not want to return, and it could force him into retirement.
Suddenly, the day the first head coach vacancy was filled when the Buffalo Bills hired Rex Ryan, there is a major opening in Denver. If Manning is planning to return, this could be one of the top jobs to become available in recent years. It could also draw interest from coaches who may have been considering other positions around the league; just as other clubs will have interest in Fox now that he is available. Everything we thought was going to happen with the coaching carousel this offseason may have just changed.