Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:
“With Super Bowl 50 in the record books, I can’t help but hope the folks in Halas Hall saw what everyone else did. No disrespect to Peyton Manning, but let’s face it, the Broncos defense beat New England and Carolina. So my question is: Do you believe Ryan Pace and John Fox are committed to building a shutdown defense? — David T., Warwick, R.I.
“I think it’s fair to say Pace and his front office and Fox and his coaching staff have the football acumen necessary to realize what made the Broncos a championship team this season. …It’s probably worth remembering that Fox had a lot to do with constructing the current Broncos defense. He didn’t shift it to a 3-4 front but he had a hand in many of the players that were core performers. …You must be forgetting Fox’s recent past when you wonder if he’s committed to constructing a top-flight defense. That’s just what Fox did in Denver. That’s how he built the Carolina Panthers into a competitor before that. Fox is a defensive guy. Just because the Broncos won a Super Bowl after he left Denver doesn’t mean he didn’t do a good job building a solid defense there.”
I understand the questioner’s trepidation. Broncos General Manager and
Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway strongly implied that getting rid of Fox was an essential step towards winning the Super Bowl. When they hear that, fans are going to wonder what he means and if eventually getting rid of Fox here in Chicago isn’t going to be an essential step for their own advancement.
But I generally agree with Biggs. There are a number of factors to be considered here. For one thing the Broncos added some incredible pieces to the puzzle after Fox left in Demarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and Shane Ray. And although Wade Phillips is a great defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio is no slouch and I’m quite certain that he could have done almost as good of a job as Phillips did. I’m sure he would have been just as aggressive. Furthermore, one of the first things Fox did when he came to Chicago was hire Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator. Anyone who saw his defenses in San Fransisco can have little doubt about his aggressiveness or his ability to get the most out of the talent he is given.
No, whatever Elway’s problem was with Fox, I very much doubt it was with how aggressive they were on defense or with Fox’s commitment to it. I think Bears fans can look forward to seeing some good play on that side of the ball as the front office gradually builds it back up. Furthermore, though we’ll never know for sure, I can find very little to make me believe that the Broncos don’t perform at least as well with Fox at the helm as with current head coach Gary Kubiac.
[EDIT – Turns out that Talib and Ware were both with the Broncos in 2014 when Fox was still the head coach. No excuse. I just blew it. Sorry.]