Posted January 13, 2013

John Fox responds to criticism of his decision-making

Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning hadn't had three turnovers in a game before Saturday since Week 2. (Jack Dempsey/AP)

Peyton Manning hadn’t had three turnovers in a game before Saturday since Week 2. (Jack Dempsey/AP)

Even after the Baltimore Ravens rather miraculously came up with a game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter Saturday, the host Broncos had a chance to take the game in regulation.

Peyton Manning at quarterback, 31 seconds and two timeouts left, needing 40 yards or so to be able to take a shot at a game-winning field goal.

And so the Broncos … took a knee?

“You don’t win, you get criticized on everything, so that’s par for the course,” Denver coach John Fox said after the game. “Thirty seconds, it’s hard to go the length of the field, some bad stuff can happen — as you saw at the end of the game.”

What Fox seemed to be referencing there (though the time window is a bit off) is Manning’s brutal overtime interception, which set the stage for Baltimore to walk off a winner.

Rather than risk a Manning mistake late in regulation, Fox opted to play for overtime — mimicking his strategy at the end of the first half, when he had Manning hand off to Jacob Hester once before heading to the locker room, taking three timeouts with him.

There, at least, the Broncos knew they would be getting the ball back to start the second half, tied 21-all. There was no such guarantee in overtime.

In fact, the Ravens won the OT coin toss and took the ball. The Broncos did manage to gain possession twice in overtime, with a chance to win the game each time, but Manning’s brutal error and the Broncos’ eventual loss certainly left the door open to criticize Fox.

Denver also played it pretty close to the vest prior to Flacco’s TD heave to Jacoby Jones — the Broncos ran it three straight times after picking up a first down with less than 2:30 left, including on a 3rd-and-7 with Baltimore out of timeouts.

An incompletion there would have stopped the clock for the Ravens, so you can understand Fox’s decision to run the ball. Still, that play call took the game out of Manning’s hands.

Even though Manning made the costliest mistake of them all in overtime, it’s hard to fathom that the Broncos would rather go the conservative route than let their future Hall of Famer try to win a playoff game for them.

Those safe decisions backfired in the long run, leaving Fox and the Broncos with an offseason’s worth of second-guessing.

60 comments
JimG
JimG

Yeah, you can call it second-guessing or 20/20 hindsight or Monday morning quarterbacking.  Squandering the opportunity for a winning field goal with THAT guy behind center against a fatigued defense was stupid THEN, it's stupid NOW and it will be stupid TOMORROW.  Sorry, John, but you set your guys up to fail, not win.  Giving the Ravens an OT mulligan only fired them up.  These are the calls that separate champions from run-of-the-mill. Welcome to playoff mediocrity with the greatest to ever strap it up, Mile High.

TruthTeller
TruthTeller

The true curse that haunts Peyton Manning is that he has had Defensive minded head coaches, with the exception of Jim Caldwell, who was a complete non-factor, in the only season that Peyton carried the Colts to the Superbowl.  Tony Dungee wanted to win every game 14 to 3 and John Fox blindly trusts his defense, even though they were torched for three long bombs in the game.  

Damn!!!  The reason you got Manning was so you had the big gun to make the big play when the game was on the line. Instead, all Fox did was keep his powder dry and trust that his defense would keep him in the game long enough for Manning to get them an OT victory.  Well, he was wrong. 

 

John,  you made a mistake, but the bigger mistake was in not preparing your team properly.  It is clear that the Denver defense totally underestimated the Raven passing attack, and believed their own press.  

jj55
jj55

Someone please tell Mr. Fox that he didn't have to go "the length of the field." Perhaps he caught the Falcons game the next day, in which a team with the identical 31 seconds on the clock actually played football and won with something called a "field goal."

seaandski
seaandski

It was John Fox that got the "right cross to the chin" not his players.  That has to explain his foggy play calling.  He was knocked out on his feet!  Yes he is a good coach...just not a great coach.  Can't stand Belichick, but you can bet his Pats would have passed on 3rd to get the first down.  That's why they are going to the dance (hate to say it). 

chief6t3
chief6t3

Well that explains why your team now has front row couch seats to the rest of the playoffs as opposed to a champion team that would try to win the game with 31 sec to go.

CliveOwen
CliveOwen

Here's the thing: PM chose Denver because the AFC West is like the All-Blind-HS School league and the home games are played in Denver. That alone guarantees about 8 wins a season as I'm sure Elway explained to him.

 

So he wins the Div, gets a first round bye, then battles to a tie only to throw a panicky pick in OT to lose the game. His coach trusts him so much that he makes PM take a knee in the last 30 rather than try to win the game. Hopefully this puts an end to any linkage between PM and "great qb" because Mr. M has the worst post season career of any qb.

 

Oh and I still like the fact that Tebow has more post season wins than the great PM in Denver.

Fikenhild
Fikenhild

If Rahim Moore hadn't made that egregious mistake letting Flacco complete that 70-yard pass, no one would be questioning Fox's decision.  The game would have been over, Denver would have won, and they'd be preparing for New England with all the Bronco fans beating their chests about how great they are.  The Ravens were playing on a short week, the announcers had remarked on how tired they were getting, and Fox must have assumed the Broncos would have the advantage in overtime.  I understand his reasoning.  It blew up in his face because of Rahim Moore and because the Ravens never flagged.

thepro
thepro

The 50 yard field goal into the wind on a frigid night not the brightest move either.

sby14
sby14

Fox was channeling Marty Schottenheimer. Manning did say that the run on 3rd and 7 was his (Manning's) audible. Still, no guts no glory.

FrickFrakKat
FrickFrakKat

 a 73-71 (.507) regular-season record (with the Panthers), a 5-3 record (make that 5-4) in the postseason doesn't surprise me he blew the calls and the game. He must have forgotten that there were no more games after this one UNLESS he WON.

Doc Holiday
Doc Holiday

If they aren't going to let Peyton handle the 2 minute,35 second, drill WHY have him. He  ONLY has more short time victories than ANY qb in the nfl. DUMB coaching.

Joe62
Joe62

Made a big mistake, but is still a pretty good coach with a great QB.

seaandski
seaandski

Fox is a disappointment.  The defense was struggling and Fox decided to take it out of the hands of arguably one of the best weapons in the NFL in Peyton Manning to convert on a 3rd down and put it to bed.  Then to repeat the same error with 2 time outs and 30 seconds??  Time for Elway to take Fox to the woodshed.   

GoBrowns
GoBrowns

Fox essentially neutered Manning at the end of that game. Why the hell did the Broncos go after him if they didn't trust him to see them through to the end?

Cool
Cool

Coach Fox is probably happy to see that Atlanta coaching staff had the same amount of time and dag nab it they got close enough for a field goal and won.   Now that was what I call coaching.

Clive
Clive

It's all on Manning. All throughout his career we hear about how he's such a smart player and here he makes another idiot mistake and he chokes on another one and none post season.

Yurong W
Yurong W

It is all the coaches fault who ever called the playes in last 2:30 minutes in4 th quarter. It is always the coaches cause all the pain for the players and the funs, too bad the playes worked so hard then end up this way.

tkprivate1
tkprivate1

Coach Fox has to own his weak decisions - 1) You don't send your kicker out to try a 52 yard FG in 3-degree weather - there's zero chance of that reaching the uprights and WHEN you miss you give the Ravens a short field to reach pay dirt; 2) You don't take the ball out of your Hall of Fame QB's hands on 3rd and 7 when the Ravens are out of timeouts - you hit your tight end for a 1st down and the game's over. This is how winning coaches think. John Fox, you blew it and should accept primary responsibility for this crushing loss!

TherealdanMcKelvey
TherealdanMcKelvey

I knew my Doncos were going to blow this game...As a fan since day one, you just know....We inherited Fox and Del Rio, two fired doofusses, and look what we have...Our record isn't as good as it appears...We had 6 wins against SD, KC and Oakland....what is that....AFC North at least plays competitive teams every week...WE go killed.....

LelandWilliamsJr.
LelandWilliamsJr.

Fox opted to go along with ELWAY (aka, BUCKY BEAVER) to get rid of the exciting TEBOW, then gets TEBOWED by the Ravens in a 4Q comeback.  Wow.  The Ravens looked like the 2011 Broncos.

missionary
missionary

Fox's playcalling, when placed here to read - is so cowardly! LOL  wow.  You're not in the situation with a lesser QB, you're in it with Peyton Manning!  You go for it at the end, and heck, you even consider going for it just before half-time at least once.  But, certainly, at the end - you have Peyton try to pass for a 20yard gain a couple times and let your kick attempt a 50-55 yarder to win it.  Ugh, what a horrible ending for the Broncos.  Glad I'm not that 'invested' in them, if I were, I'd be sick!

WillWillis1
WillWillis1

Baltimore doesn't even get the opportunity to score that ridiculous tying TD near the end of regulation if Fox doesn't make the decision to run into the line three times and punt. The game would've been over without Baltimore seeing the ball again if Denver had converted 3rd and 7, and they didn't even try. 

DAN B1
DAN B1

playing not to lose will get you beat everyday and twice on sundays

62Sparkplug
62Sparkplug

Fox's approach condensed to two words:  No balls!

thinksitsok
thinksitsok

Fox should have read this before the game:  “You don’t win a war by digging a foxhole and sitting in it,” Belichick said. “You’ve got to go out there and attack, you’ve got to make the plays that you need to make to win. It’s a one game season.”

nc
nc

This is the same type decision-making that Fox made as coach of the Carolina Panthers...

bbc
bbc

In other words what Fox is saying is that he didn't have enough confidence in his "elite" QB to drive 40 yards in 31 secnds with 2 timeouts. If that's the case why bring in such a QB in the first place. I mean if it were pats in a similar situation I would count on Brady moving the ball 40 yards in 30 odd seconds with 2 timeouts.

scottky
scottky

You would have thought the Broncos would have learned from history.  Remember the 1998 NFC Championship Game with the Vikings and Falcons?  Denny Green did the same thing for the Vikings - with the same result.

beast
beast

Fox can claim he's merely being critiqued all he wants. He made one of the dumbest calls ever in the NFL playoffs. 

You have Manning at QB. He looked at the situation and thought about "What could go wrong." He needed to think about what could go right! 

Champions WILL themselves to victory. They don't hide from tough situations, they battle through them, they find a way to win. They dont cower from opportunities as Fox did. 

Another reason it was incredibly stupid was with the cold progressively diminishing his team, its better to try sooner than later. 

Fox's decision will not be one of the most DEBATED  decisions ever because theres no debate. There's no argument in favor of his decision. 

It was one of the most obvious monumental blunders in the History of the NFL playoffs. 

dinohealth
dinohealth

Yep, Manning was also a "safe" decision and acquisition over Tebow. That, too, backfired, as it is now history that a running quarterback like Tebow won a playoff game for Denver,Tim can play in the cold, and, is a fierce competitor with the game on the line!

FredTroisi
FredTroisi

yeah but then atlanta coach followed it up with a bone head manuever of an on side kick to the 50 yrd line.  could have lost the game.

TherealdanMcKelvey
TherealdanMcKelvey

 @LelandWilliamsJr. Please don't use the word Tebow in the same book as Elway.....Tebow was the worst thing that ever happened to Denver...He will be not playing in the NFL anymore, thank you...smd.

geewhiz
geewhiz

 @WillWillis1 He calls plays too conservatively...almost if he had jake delhomme back there still.

Geno
Geno

 @DAN B1 

Exactly why Lovie Smith had to go in Chicago. That is how he coached.

syndromezed
syndromezed

 @nc I thought it was the Jags, but whichever team it was he coached before, the statement still applies.  He's always been too scared to be a successful coach.

 

But I have to wonder what happened to Caldwell in OT too.  My sweet lord, if they ran Ray Rice up the mfing middle one more time on first down I was going to send in a lawyer to stipulate that the Ravens could start on second down with 7 yards to go, just to speed the game up.

m473r1ck
m473r1ck

 @beast With John Fox you have to build yourself a big enough lead to withstand the poor late game coaching decisions he will make.

blackcatcrosses
blackcatcrosses

 @dinohealth The difference between Tebow and the other contemporary running QBs is that the other guys can actually throw the ball. Tebow was lucky and facing a way over the hill defense against Pitts last year. What do you think Manning would have done against them? COnversely, how do you think Tebow would have done against the Ravens yesterday? 

pljaye
pljaye

That was Elway's decision--that move allowed him to jettison Tebow without facing a huge fan backlash. If you lived in Colorado, you know how Elway seemed to loathe Tebow every time he talked about him. Even after Tebow's franchise record-setting game against the Steelers in last year's playoffs, Elway barely managed a two-word description of Tebow's play before bolting out of the stadium. Elway knew that he wouldn't face much criticism for replacing a second-year qb with a 4-time MVP, but his big mistake was overestimating the rest of the team and underestimating Tebow's contribution to last season's improbable turnaround. I'm sure that he thought that if a second-year qb with only one season worth of starts under his belt could lead the Broncos into the second round of the playoffs, the Broncos would waltz into the Super Bowl with an all-time great like Manning at the helm. Elway apparently never considered Manning's losing playoff record. In any event, the irony is that this year's team with Manning only made it as far as last year's Tebow-led Broncos (second round of the playoffs), with the difference being that last year's team at least won a first-round playoff game--it only cost Denver Manning's $18 million salary to achieve the same results as last year's team. 

nc
nc

 @syndromezedUnfortunately, it was the Panthers...Fox had the knack for making decisions in critical situations that stole defeat from the jaws of victory. We were left scratching our heads - "Why the F did he do that???" Broncos fans just got a small whiff of that:-)

I agree, running Rice up the middle on first down was as predictable as the weather in the Sahara during summer.. 

 

 

pljaye
pljaye

 @blackcatcrosses  @dinohealth You obssessed Tebow critics always bring up these hypothetical "what ifs." Forget "what if Tebow," "what if Manning." LOOK AT THE FACTS! Tebow beat the Steelers at home in last year's playoffs with a record-setting passing performance--Manning's interception sealed Denver's playoff loss to Baltimore at home. No matter how much you rail against them, those are INDISPUTABLE FACTS.

 

By the way, I admire and appreciate Manning's regular season accomplishments, but he's simply not a clutch player when the stakes are highest--eight first-round losses and a 9-11 playoff record are proof of that. Even the year that Indy won the Super Bowl, Manning only threw 3 touchdown passes against SEVEN interceptions. He's a great regular season quarterback but an extremely average playoff quarterback.

 

Denver playoff victories: Tebow - 1, Manning - 0.

snowboarder72282
snowboarder72282

 @pljaye You are out of your mind. We backed into the playoffs last year at 8-8. Tebow didn't get us into the playoffs, Rivers from SD and Praters leg did. The game Tebow played was nowhere near as cold. This game could have been won but between the secondary blowing coverage, the offense playing their worst game of season, Prater kicking the ground, the refs (that couldn't even figure out how to turn on his mic), and john fox making the weakest calls he could we lost. It was an all around horrible game and we would have never even been there in the first place if we still had Tebow. I was pissed when the Broncos hired Fox (The Panthers finished in last place the year prior to his hiring). I am a die hard Broncos fan and i kept telling my friends throughout the season that John Fox and his spineless play calling was going to make us loose in the playoffs. Fox let opponents hang around in games instead of putting the pressure on early when he had the chance. @denver_broncos

 

LelandWilliamsJr.
LelandWilliamsJr.

 @pljaye ELWAY is a big toothed CAR DEALER.  The Denver folks deserve him.  Manning did a lot of Womanning in the 4Q.

Daniel21
Daniel21

 @feralboy12 Wildcard weekend is after the regular season, last time I checked.

andrewyak30062
andrewyak30062

That's the dumbest thing I ever read. How do you discount a win because it was in a previous round? Have you ever seen anyone's postseason record separated by round? That is rationalization at its worst. @feralboy12

andrewyak30062
andrewyak30062

@TherealdanMcKelvey @EricH @LelandWilliamsJr. You're happy that Manning is making millions off your team and not producing? If that is true, how can you say tebow is the worst thing to happen to the Broncos? How is what happened to them in 2011 a bad thing? Winning a playoff game is a bad thing? What the hell are you talking about? Manning is the one ripping your team off. That is less money under the cap to pay other players for the next 3 years! Tebow cost you nothing

feralboy12
feralboy12

They both lost in the divisional round. Tebow won a wild-card game, Manning won a first-round bye. It's a wash.

Daniel21
Daniel21

 @nc  @syndromezed True that.  Rice had an amazing year (but for AP).  I was at the San Diego game where he ran his game-clinching 4th & 29 masterpiece.  There was really no stopping him.  And I'm a Charger fan.  It didn't look like he made it from our section but the jumbo-tron showed him landing right on the marker.  There was no stopping him this year.   :)

pljaye
pljaye

 @snowboarder72282 Hey, Snowboarder dude, calm down. I was referring to one specific game and you throw in a bunch of unrelated comments regarding Prater and Rivers. Who cares how the Broncos got into the playoffs last year--the fact is that they made it. And by the way, Denver's record was 8-8 (9-9 including playoff games), but Tebow's record as the starting quarterback was 7-4 (8-5 including playoff games). Don't pin that 1-4 season-opening record on Tebow, since Orton was starting and giving Denver what Fox ludicrously described as the Broncos "best chance to win" Change "Orton" to "Sanchez" and it would be easy to confuse Fox with Rex Ryan.

 

By the way, since you felt compelled to bring up the weather, what does the temperature of either playoff game have to do with anything? Considering that he makes roughly $20 million, I think that Manning, like any qb, should be expected to perform well in cold weather--Flacco certainly did

 

 

CliveOwen
CliveOwen

 @snowboarder72282  @pljaye  @denver_broncos You should read the packaging before you buy. PM's record outside of a dome is horrible. PM's record in the post season is horrible. Put the two together in Denver and you're almost certain to see a loss.