Broncos finally meet with ex-Panthers coach Fox about job

John Fox brought his spiffy new orange tie to Denver, along with a proven blueprint for resurrecting a downtrodden team.

Fox finally arrived in Colorado early Wednesday afternoon to meet with the Broncos about their head-coaching vacancy after his flight out of North Carolina was delayed three times this week by winter weather.

Fox then met with John Elway, who is leading the team's second head-coaching search in two seasons, to see if he was a good fit with the Broncos, who are coming off a franchise-worst 4-12 season.

"Great to get John Fox in here for his interview today," Elway wrote on Twitter. "Had a good meeting with a well-respected coach."

Fox touts a top-of-the-pile resume.

"I've been doing it. I have a plan, whether it's a bye-week schedule, a training-camp schedule. It's not my first rodeo, so to speak," Fox said. "So I think I do have a blueprint to do it. We've had success, some years more than others. But, you know, the full body of work, I think, holds a blueprint for success."

Fox has built a team from the ground up before.

"When I went into the Panthers, we were 1-15, and it was very similar: a second (overall) pick, much the same situation," he said.

Fox's contract wasn't renewed by the Panthers following an NFL-worst 2-14 season. He is the fifth candidate the Broncos have interviewed to replace Josh McDaniels, who was fired Dec. 6 amid the team's worst slide in four decades and an embarrassing videotaping scandal.

Fox said his interview was as much about him getting a feel for the Broncos to see if the fit was right.

"This is going to be two-sided," he said. "I want to see what direction they want to go, and whether or not I can be a benefit to that. We'll find out, and that's why I'm here."

Although fellow candidates Eric Studesville and Perry Fewell have interim head-coaching experience, Dirk Koetter has been a coordinator and Rick Dennison owns deep organizational knowledge after spending 24 years with the Broncos as a player and an assistant, none of them have the coaching credentials that Fox does.

Fox, 55, spent the last nine seasons as Carolina's coach, going 73-71 and winning five of eight games in three trips to the playoffs. The Panthers were coming off a 1-15 season when he took over in 2002, and he led them to a 7-9 mark in his first year before guiding them to the Super Bowl in his second season.

"I think the rebuild (in Denver) probably is going to require a little bit more on defense than offense, but, you know, I think I have a blueprint that we executed in Carolina, and I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work here in Denver," Fox told reporters at Denver International Airport before heading to Dove Valley.

Broncos general manager Brian Xanders has said the team's top priority is fixing the last-ranked defense, which will be the focus on Denver's draft, and Fox's background is steeped in defense. He spent 13 years as a defensive assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams and New York Giants, including seven seasons as defensive coordinator, before taking over the Panthers.

Fox said he wouldn't have a problem if the Broncos want to stick with the 3-4 defensive scheme they've employed since 2009, although he mostly used a 4-3 look in Carolina.

Another advantage for Fox is his deep roots in the NFL, which would allow him to build a strong staff.

Fox's Panthers teams averaged nearly nine wins per season in his first eight years in Charlotte, but Carolina was the only team with a worse record than Denver in 2010.

Fox insisted he wasn't beaten down by last year's difficult season or by the grind of being an NFL head coach for nearly the last decade.

"I still have a big passion for it," he said. "I'm excited about this opportunity, the Broncos' tradition. I think getting John involved is critical. And I just want to get a chance to visit these guys and see what their plan's going to be."

Elway said last week when he was hired as the team's new chief football executive that his new coach should be willing to work with rookie quarterback Tim Tebow. And Fox said he's a big believer in the former University of Florida star, who started in Denver's last three games.

"Well, I'll say this: I had dinner with the young man in Gainesville in the evaluation process and I know he'll do whatever it takes to be a great player," Fox said. "He's got a lot of the intangibles I look for, and where that goes, it's hard to predict. He's in the development stage for sure, but I think he has the makings to be as good as he wants to be."

Of Denver's five candidates so far, only Fewell has had interviews with other NFL teams about their head-coaching vacancies. He interviewed with the Cleveland Browns and the Panthers, who on Tuesday hired Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera.

Fewell, the Giants' defensive coordinator, interviewed Sunday with the Broncos, as did Studesville, who went 1-3 after being promoted from running backs coach upon McDaniels' ouster. Offensive coordinators Dennison of the Houston Texans and Koetter of the Jacksonville Jaguars interviewed Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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