The Denver Broncos are the No. 1 seed in the AFC and own the best record in the NFL. Denver has won 11 straight games and appears to be the team to beat in the postseason, and John Elway is getting a lot of credit for the bold moves he’s made since taking over as the Broncos’ executive vice president of football operations two years ago.
Whether it was hiring John Fox as head coach or drafting Von Miller or even signing Peyton Manning last offseason, everything that Elway has done so far has turned into gold. The former Broncos quarterback discusses the logic behind his moves in the following interview.
John Elway joined KKFN in Denver with Sandy Clough to discuss the last two years with the Denver Broncos’ front office, his decision to hire John Fox as head coach, believing that Fox was a long-term coach for the Broncos, Peyton Manning having a tremendous year and Manning’s attention to detail.
Have the last two years been the busiest years of your life with the Broncos?
“Yeah they have. Anytime you step into a new position and begin learning the people and learning the processes and everything that I had to learn in this position, it has been busy. It’s also been enjoyable. Obviously we are reaping the awards of some of the right decisions that have been made, but I knew stepping into it was going to be a busy time and that’s exactly what it’s been.”
Why did you know it was the right move to hire John Fox?
“I think if you look back at where we were in our organization and where, kind of, the fan base was and the type of personality that John had, I just thought he was a perfect fit to get this thing turned around, just as far as the type of person he was. To bring the joy back to football, because football is a hard enough game to win and if you are not enjoying what you are doing, it makes it that much more difficult — and John has that ability. Plus, he had a defensive mindset. We had struggled on the defensive side for so long and even this year we are on our seventh defensive coordinator, but to me, he brought a solid base on the defensive side where we could concentrate and be better on the defensive side. And plus I thought he had a chip on his shoulder. Anytime you’ve got a guy that is as competitive as a John Fox, who had success in Carolina and then kind of went through what he went through, I think he wanted to prove he was a much better coach than 2-14 , so those three things combined, we were getting a pretty darn good package and it worked out that way.”
You never viewed John Fox as a transitional coach did you?
“I did not. I think if you looked at when he came from the Giants to Carolina, he turned them around. He got them in the Super Bowl the second year he was there. I knew he could get us turned around. He had proven he had a track record to do that, so at that point in time you are thinking short term, but long term-wise, I also realized that he’s a guy that, when we talked to him and interviewed him, that he wanted to coach for a long time. He wasn’t thinking about getting out of the game in three years. He wanted to coach and I know coaching. Growing up with one, they never get coaching out of their blood. I was not looking at John Fox as him thinking that this was going to be a short-term vision for him either.”
Did Peyton Manning have the greatest year of all-time for a 36-year-old quarterback?
“Especially with what he went through in coming back off the surgery, and what he went through after being released in Indianapolis, and you get a great player in that and he still felt like he had a lot of good football left in him, and we did. He really did come back and had a tremendous year and worked his tail off. … He was the Peyton Manning we thought we were getting and he’s proven that.”
Were you more impressed by Peyton Manning recovering from the surgeries or the execution he brings every week?
“I think it’s his attention to detail with the things we did offensively. Everybody did a tremendous job on the offensive side with Mike McCoy and Adam Gase blending what we were used to doing here and putting in what Peyton is used to doing. I think everybody worked together so well, and we were able to get that where everyone was on the same page and blend it together where there’s a lot of good things Peyton hadn’t seen before with Mike McCoy and Adam Gase that we were doing here. Blending part of it worked out real well, where to me, Peyton saw some new things he hadn’t seen in 14 years. He pretty much has been doing the same thing for 13, 14 years, so you got some new things and different ideas with Mike McCoy and Adam Gase. And to me, that made the package that much better, and I think that’s why we had the year we had offensively.”
Listen to John Elway on KKFN in Denver here [Interview begins at the 4:25 mark of the podcast]