Published: 15 January 2015
The Broncos and John Fox agreed to part ways this week, ostensibly because team president John Elway and Fox did not agree on how to take the team to the next level. That could be a platitude to cover the fact that Elway and Fox simply didn't work well together, or perhaps Elway was simply not satisfied with two early exits from the playoffs over the last three years by a team loaded with talent, especially this season. Maybe Elway can point to specific failures on the part of Fox that directly contributed to the playoff losses--failing to adjust for how the Seahawks played their receivers, for example.
I suppose any of those reasons are fair. As president of the team, Elway is entitled to choose whoever he wants to coach the team for any reason he pleases, but it's also fair to say that had the recent postseasons had worked out differently, even a little, Fox might not have been asked to leave. It's very plausible to me that Elway believes he has constructed a championship caliber team, and thus a failure to win a Super Bowl must have a cause that lies outside the Broncos roster. Accountability, therefore, lies at the feet of the coaches.
Let's agree that Denver was one of the very top teams over the last three years. They won 13, 13, and 12 games against a 1st-place schedule , earning a playoff bye each year, plus had one Super Bowl appearance. Let's suppose they were so good, they'd have a 70% chance of winning a playoff game against any
other playoff-caliber opponent. That's insanely good by the way. Very few teams in recent history could be rated higher, and if so, not by much.
Here's how likely a team like that is to get to a Super Bowl in a given year:
0.7 * 0.7 = 0.49
And here's how likely they are to win a Super Bowl:
0.7 3 = 0.34
The NFL playoffs are such a crap-shoot of a process that even the most dominant (and well-coached), once-in-a-decade kind of team has less than a 50% of making it to the Super Bowl and a 34% of winning one.
So how does Denver get to the next level? Denver is at the next level. There is no other level.
It's just that their level is one where the ultimate result is something of a dice roll.