By Keith Antigiovanni
The Denver Broncos are 2011 AFC West champions and in the playoffs for the first time since 2005 when Mike Shannahan was the Head Coach and Jake Plummer was the quarterback. The thing football fans are asking about this is How did they do it?
Possible reasons are:
1) Tim Tebow
2) John Fox
3) Improved defense
4) Improved special teams
5) easy division
While many will claim that Tim Tebow is the main reason for the Broncos success this year there were many factors. First-year Head Coach John Fox is an underated coach who achieved maximum success in his 9 years at Carolina going 73-71, three playoff appearances, 2 NFC Title games and a Super Bowl appearance in 2003. The Bronco fans pressured John Elway and John Fox into starting Tebow.
Fox was able and willing to change his offense to suit Tebow after a 1-4 start with Kyle Orton. The fans were calling for a quarterback change and Tebow was able to energize the team. The new offense featured a conservative running game of Tebow and Willis McGahee to control the clock. The defense led by defensive end Elvis Dumervil, rookie linebacker Von Miller, veterans Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins knew they could not afford to give up many points and played well after the quarterback change.
Because of the end result Fox should be considered a Head Coach of the Year candidate when no expected Denver to be in the playoffs or much less challenge for the division title. The weakness of the division was also in the Broncos favor as the Kansas City Chiefs fired their Head Coach and suffered numerous injuries to key players. The overhyped, talented San Diego Chargers continued to underachieve under Norv Turner and the dysfunctional Oakland Raiders.
The big question regarding this season is if the 2011 campaign is the beginning of a resurgent Broncos team in the 2010's or is it an anamoly based on random factors? Another question is whether or not Elway and Fox want to keep Tebow as the starter or will they draft/sign another quarterback for the future.