The Denver Broncos began the season with a “Super Bowl or bust” mentality. Unfortunately for them, they went one-and-done in the playoffs for the second time in three years, this after falling to the Colts, 24-13, in the divisional round this past Sunday.
“Well, it was a stunning loss,” Denver Post Broncos reporter Troy Renck said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “They were undefeated at home, they were a heavy favorite and it just didn’t really enter anyone’s mind that they could get upset. Outside of Andrew Luck and maybe Vontae Davis, the Colts were viewed as a one-man team. So (it was) a stunning loss that set in motion a chain of events that’s still going on.”
That chain of events began with the Broncos parting ways with John Fox, who went 46-18 in four seasons with Denver.
“John Elway had pretty much told John Fox we can’t have any more worst game in the big game,” Renck said. “They played terrible in the Super Bowl last year, they were awful at New England, awful on Monday night at Cincinnati, and then they came out and were just absolutely smothered by the Colts. John Elway sees the window closing with Peyton Manning. He wants a Super Bowl title, and he just doesn’t believe Fox can get him there. They had a mutual parting of ways.”
Manning, meanwhile, turns 39 in March and looked his age during the second half of the season. He finished 26-of-46 for 211 yards and one touchdown against Indianapolis, as the Broncos scored just 13 points in the final 55 minutes of the game.
“John Elway wants him back,” Renck said. “He made it very clear in the press conference he wants him back. He’s even going to consult him at some point during the coaching search, so at least the early signs are that Manning will come back, but that might not be decided for another month. And they (lost) their defensive coordinator (Wednesday) with Jack Del Rio taking the Raiders job. So just a lot of moving pieces. (But) because it’s John Elway as GM, (the fans) trust him, even though (he’s made some very rash moves).”
While winning a Super Bowl was the goal this year, Fox’s job status didn’t necessarily hinge on that.
“If they had won against Indianapolis and then gone to New England and lost, say, 28-20, there’s no shame in that on the road,” Renck said. “John Fox would have been back. But it was not just the loss; it was the nature of the loss. John Elway alluded to it in his press conference this week that you want to see your team go out kicking and screaming and playing with more fire – and that was a direct indictment of Fox. They had a disagreement on how to get to the next level – meaning, winning big games. And Elway was perplexed at the preparation. Every time they prepared for big games, they came out and looked like they hadn’t practiced, whether it’s the Super Bowl on the first snap and being somehow surprised by the noise, to New England’s defensive scheme, to the inability to adjust in-game against the Colts defensively and offensively. But had they won that game and lost a close, competitive game at New England, the feeling is John Fox would have been back.”