Watching John Fox and Peyton Manning lead separate NFL teams in the previous decade would suggest they have some work to do to get on the same offensive playbook page.
Fox is a head coach raised on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage. He has operated his offense as if half his thoughts are with his defense. Pound the running game. Milk the clock. Keep the defense on the sideline. Mix in an explosive pass play. Pound the running game.
Manning is a quarterback who has taken a detour to Denver while on his way to Canton, Ohio. He did not become one of the all-time best quarterbacks by handoff alone. It's through the air, without bothering to huddle up, that Manning has sliced up defenses.
The meshing of Fox and Manning, and Manning and the Broncos, begins today with the Broncos' first organized team activity (OTA) workout at their Dove Valley headquarters.
Despite the differences in offensive style, there is also a statistical compatibility between Fox and Manning that suggests they will get along quite well now that they are both with the Broncos. And Jon Gruden knows what that statistic is.
"I know John Fox's record when they've scored over 25 points a game," said Gruden, a former Super Bowl-winning coach who now is the color commentator for ESPN's "Monday Night Football" telecasts. "It's pretty impressive. And I know Peyton Manning for 14 years has been slicing people up for about 25 points a game. So that combination could be lethal for the Broncos."
Fox coached the Carolina Panthers for nine years and is going into his second season with the Broncos. He doesn't mind winning by a score of 17-10. Give him some offense, though, and Fox knows how to finish.
His coaching record when his teams score at least 25 points: 39-3. Granted, even in this pass-happy, wide-open era, 25 points is better than average. But 25 points in an NFL game does not produce the nearly automatic victory that, say, 12 runs does in baseball or seven goals in hockey. The San Diego Chargers averaged 26.5 points a game the past two seasons yet have posted a combined 17-15 record.
Manning compiled so many extraordinary passing numbers in his 13 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, he ranks among the top three all time in all the major categories. He didn't play a 14th season with the Colts because of a neck injury. The recovery from that injury will be under close examination today as Manning performs before the media for the first time since his token appearance in the 2010 season's Pro Bowl.
Not that today is Manning's first day on the job. Since he picked the Broncos from a list of at least 10 suitors on March 20, Manning has been at the team's Dove Valley headquarters every minute that the league's collective bargaining agreement allows.
"I don't feel like there is much free time," Manning said last month. "I feel like there is always more room to study, some time with Luke (Richesson, the team's strength and conditioning coach) and Greek (Antonopulos, the team's trainer). For me it's a double load with rehab and learning a new system. You can't rush things; they're going to take time."
Manning's Colts averaged better than 25 points in 10 of his last 12 playing seasons, and 26.7 points overall in that span. The Colts also averaged 11.5 victories in those 12 years.
That would work just fine for the Broncos, who have averaged only 7.3 wins the past six seasons.
Mike Klis: 303-954-1055 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Passing the time
To help new quarterback Peyton Manning get acclimated, the Broncos will have 13 offseason practices spread out in four segments over the next four weeks. The first three organized team activities (OTAs) are considered voluntary. The final minicamp is mandatory.
OTA 1: Today, Tuesday, Wednesday
OTA 2: May 30-June 1
OTA 3: June 4-7
Minicamp: June 12-14
Training camp: Begins the last week of July