Head Coach, Chicago Bears
John Fox, one of the NFL’s most experienced and respected head coaches, enters his third season with the Broncos in 2013 after being named the 14th head coach in franchise history on Jan. 13, 2011. Fox, who has experience on multiple Super Bowl teams and is one of six active head coaches with 100 overall wins, joined the Broncos after spending the previous nine seasons (2002-10) as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers.
A proven leader known for his positive, energetic coaching style, Fox has appeared in two Super Bowls and three conference championship games as a head coach or defensive coordinator. He has coached 30 players to a total of 57 Pro Bowl selections, including Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback Rod Woodson and perennial All-Pros such as cornerback Champ Bailey, safety Brian Dawkins, quarterback Peyton Manning and defensive ends Julius Peppers and Michael Strahan.
In his second year with the club in 2012, Fox led Denver to a 13-3 record and the AFC’s No. 1 seed, while earning his 100th career victory in the Broncos’ regular-season finale. Additionally, he became just the 10th coach in NFL history to deliver a division title in each of his first two years with a team. He also became just the third such coach to win consecutive division crowns after inheriting a team that finished with a losing record the previous season.
The Broncos reeled off 11 straight wins to end the 2012 regular season as the only NFL team to finish in the Top 5 in both total offense (4th) and total defense (2nd). Manning, the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year, league MVP runner-up and first-team All-Pro selection, led Denver’s offense that tied for the fourth-most 30-point outputs (11) in NFL history. The Broncos’ defense, led by Defensive Player of the Year candidate Von Miller, tied for the league lead in sacks (52) and allowed an NFL-low 30.6-percent third-down conversion rate.
In his initial campaign with Denver in 2011, Fox led the Broncos to their first AFC West title and playoff victory in six years en route to finishing third in the Associated Press’ NFL Coach of the Year voting. He became only the third head coach since the 1970 NFL merger to lead a team to a division title and playoff victory in his first year with a franchise after inheriting a club that won four or fewer games the previous year.
Fox guided the Broncos to six consecutive victories following a 1-4 start on their way to capturing the AFC West title along with a playoff victory against the defending AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Showing great resiliency, the Broncos tied an NFL record by winning six games when trailing or tied entering the fourth quarter.
Fox’s first Broncos team was led by an offense that averaged a club-record and NFL-best 164.5 rushing yards per game along with a defense that posted the club’s highest sack total (41) in 10 years. He worked with six players who went to the Pro Bowl (Denver’s highest total in 10 years), including Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Von Miller, who led a Broncos rookie class that totaled the second-most starts (56) in the league.
Before joining the Broncos, Fox compiled a 73-71 (.507) regular-season record with the Panthers during his nine years as head coach. He led Carolina to three 11-win campaigns, two NFC South Division titles and three playoff appearances.
Carolina went 5-3 in the postseason under Fox, appearing in two NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl (XXXVIII during the 2003 season). His four postseason road victories rank third in NFL history behind Pro Football Hall of Fame coaches Tom Landry (7, Dallas) and Joe Gibbs (5, Washington).
Fox’s defenses ranked among the top eight in the league during five of his nine seasons in Carolina while registering an NFC-high 299 takeaways (3rd in NFL). He was instrumental in improving the Panthers’ defense from its last-place ranking in 2001 to No. 2 (290.4 ypg.) during his initial campaign as the only defensive unit since the 1970 NFL merger to accomplish that feat.
Carolina’s defensive upgrade was central to Fox’s transformation of the 1-15 team he inherited following the 2001 season to the 7-9 squad he guided in 2002. That improvement marked the third-best first-year coaching turnaround in NFL history (Bobby Ross, 1992; Jim Haslett, 2000).
His 2003 team finished 11-5 and captured the NFC South crown en route to advancing to Super Bowl XXXVIII, where Carolina lost to New England 32-29. Fox joined Vince Lombardi and Bill Parcells as the only coaches in NFL history to inherit a one-win team and lead it to the postseason in just two years.
Carolina’s second NFC Championship Game appearance in a span of three seasons came in 2005 after the Panthers finished with the NFL’s third-ranked defense (282.6 ypg.) and earned a road win against Atlanta in their season finale to qualify for the playoffs. Fox’s team won two more road games in the postseason, shutting out New York, 23-0, and defeating Chicago, 29-21, before losing to the Seahawks in the conference championship game in Seattle.
Fox also guided teams with dynamic offensive identities as Carolina produced four individual 1,000-yard rushing seasons (DeAngelo Williams-2, Stephen Davis-1, Jonathan Stewart-1) and seven individual 1,000-yard receiving outputs (Steve Smith-4, Mushin Muhammad-3) during his nine years with the Panthers. Carolina consistently fielded one of the NFL’s best rushing attacks under Fox, including a seven-year stretch from 2003-09 when it placed 10th in the league in rushing yards per game (122.9)
In addition, quarterback Jake Delhomme recorded four 3,000-yard passing seasons for Carolina, including three consecutive campaigns from 2003-05.
The Panthers totaled a franchise-record 12 victories in 2008 behind the NFL’s 10th-ranked offense (349.7 ypg.). Williams, who finished with a franchise-record 1,515 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns to earn his first Pro Bowl selection that year, teamed with Stewart to lead a rushing attack that averaged 152.3 yards per game and 30 rushing touchdowns—only the fifth unit since the 1970 NFL merger to equal those totals.
In 2007, the Panthers became the first team in more than a decade to win at least one game with four different starting quarterbacks, finishing with a 7-9 record after losing starter Jake Delhomme in the third game with a season-ending elbow injury.
Fox guided 15 different Panthers to a total of 28 Pro Bowl selections from 2002-10. Peppers, who was chosen by the Panthers with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, earned Associated Press NFL Rookie of the Year honors and was selected to five Pro Bowls (2004-06, ’08-09) during his time in Carolina in addition to being named to the 2000s NFL All-Decade Team. Linebacker Jon Beason (2008-10), offensive tackle Jordan Gross (2008, ’10), defensive tackle Kris Jenkins (2002-03, ’06), center Ryan Kalil (2009-10) and Smith (2005-06, ’08) were among the players who went to multiple Pro Bowls during Fox’s time in Carolina.
Before his head coaching tenure with the Panthers, Fox spent five seasons as the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants from 1997-2001 and led a defense that consistently ranked among the league’s most productive units. New York allowed the seventh-fewest points per game (18.7) in the NFL during that span while also finishing fourth in the league with a plus-25 turnover differential. The Giants totaled 230 sacks in five seasons under Fox, including Strahan’s NFL-record 22.5 sacks in 2001.
Fox made an immediate impact upon his arrival in New York, coordinating a defense that led the NFL with a club-record 44 takeaways, including a league-high 27 interceptions. His initial Giants defense held opponents to 20 or fewer points in 12-of-16 games and allowed just 90.7 yards per contest on the ground.
The pinnacle of Fox’s stretch with the Giants came in the 2000 season when the Giants advanced to Super Bowl XXXV by shutting out the Minnesota Vikings and the NFL’s fifth-ranked offense in the NFC Championship Game by a 41-0 margin. Another highlight came during the 1998 season when the Giants’ defense helped the team win its last four games, including a 20-16 win over John Elway and the eventual Super Bowl-champion Denver Broncos, who entered the contest 13-0 and were held to a season-low point total.
Giants linebacker Jessie Armstead made all five of his career Pro Bowls during the five-year period Fox was the team’s defensive coordinator while Strahan earned his first four Pro Bowl selections during that time.
Fox spent a season as a consultant for the St. Louis Rams in 1996 after two years as the Raiders’ defensive coordinator (1994-95). His defenses with the Raiders finished in the top half of the league in both of his seasons on staff and were anchored by defensive tackle Chester McGlockton and cornerback Terry McDaniel, each of whom earned Pro Bowl honors in both years under Fox.
As a secondary coach for the Chargers from 1992-93 under Bobby Ross, Fox helped San Diego rank second in the NFL with 47 interceptions in his two seasons, mentoring players such as safety Darren Carrington and Pro Bowl cornerback Gill Byrd. He was part of the Chargers’ turnaround from a 4-12 record and a last-place finish in the AFC West the season before he arrived to an 11-5 mark and a division title in 1992.
He began his NFL career in 1989 in Pittsburgh, where he coached the secondary during Pro Football Hall of Fame Head Coach Chuck Noll’s final three seasons with the Steelers from 1989-91. In that capacity, he instructed Woodson, who in 1991 earned the first of his 10 Pro Bowl selections as a defensive back en route to earning induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Fox’s coaching career began in 1978 as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, San Diego State University, after playing two seasons as a defensive back for the Aztecs. Teammates with former NFL Head Coach Herm Edwards, he graduated from SDSU with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a secondary education teaching credential.
He worked his way through the college ranks, making a succession of moves beginning at U.S. International University (San Diego) in 1979 coaching defensive backs under Pro Football Hall of Famer Sid Gillman. Fox also had stints at Boise State (1980), Long Beach State (1981), Utah (1982), Kansas (1983) and Iowa State (1984) before his first venture into professional football for the USFL’s Los Angeles Express in 1985.
Serving as defensive coordinator and secondary coach for the University of Pittsburgh from 1986-88, he orchestrated a pass defense that ranked in the top-10 nationally in each of his three seasons before moving on to his first NFL job with the Steelers.
A native of Virginia Beach, Va., Fox spent his teen years in the San Diego area and attended Castle Park High School in Chula Vista, Calif. He played defensive back at Southwestern Junior College in Chula Vista (1974-75) before transferring to San Diego State to finish his collegiate career.
The son of Ron Fox, who was a U.S. Navy SEAL, John and his wife, Robin, have three sons: Matthew, Mark and Cody, and a daughter, Halle.