ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- On the heels of an AFC championship season, the Broncos are making sure the men in charge stay that way for the near future.
After locking up Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway to a three-year contract extension, the organization turned its focus to the head coach.
The club announced on Saturday that John Fox has agreed to terms on a new three-year contract that will keep him with Denver through the 2016 season.
“We are pleased to reach this agreement with John Fox, who has played a key role in the success and improvement of the Broncos during the last three seasons,” Elway said. “While our team has made progress each year under Coach Fox, we both understand that there is still work to be done for us to reach our ultimate goal.
“Having continuity at the head coaching position is critical in building a championship team, and John Fox is an important part of our foundation as we move forward.”
When Fox was hired, the Broncos were coming off a 4-12 season. But Fox helped lead the Broncos to the playoffs in his first campaign, and he has since become just the fifth head coach in NFL history to win division titles in each of his first three seasons with a team.
He's just the third coach to accomplish that feat after inheriting a team with a losing record, and just the second to take a last-place team and lead it to three consecutive division crowns in his first three years. In that span, the club has totaled the third-most wins in the NFL.
"We've talked about winning championships here," Fox said. "We've won three AFC West championships, we won one AFC championship, but we've yet to get that third set of hats, and that is for a World Championship. That's been the goal every year and that won't change moving forward."
In January, Elway called Fox "a perfect fit for us" because of the attitude he brings to every aspect of his job.
"He's just a positive guy,” Elway said. “You never really see him down. You never see him in a bad mood. You never see him without any energy. He's got more energy than anybody I've ever seen. That, to me, is the definition of John Fox—the energy level that he brings. He brings it to the practice field, and it's contagious."
Of all the adversity the Broncos faced in the 2013 season, perhaps the scariest was the loss of Fox for a month.
During the team’s bye week, Fox felt light-headed on a golf course. Hours later he was set to undergo aortic heart valve replacement surgery.
“The word ‘worry’ comes to mind. Definitely was worried, started praying for him,” team captain
But once the team got word that Fox’s surgery was successful and he would be back to health later in the season, the club named Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio its interim head coach and kept its focus on football.
“It was an honor to be called on," Del Rio said. "It was about the collective effort of all the players and coaches and trainers and equipment guys, everybody involved that had to pull together in Coach Fox’s absence.”
In that four-week span, the Broncos went 3-1 in what was arguably their toughest stretch of the regular season.
Fox set a goal after the surgery that he would return to the sidelines four weeks later. And that’s exactly what he did.
“They gave me a great projection of what the rehab was going to be like, how fast I could get back to normalcy – that is coaching for me,” Fox said. "I never really gave it a second thought about coming back not being an option, or returning to coaching not being an option.”
“It was a great feeling,” defensive tackle
Now, at the NFL owners meetings last month, Fox said he feels "a bunch better."
Just the sixth head coach in pro football history to lead multiple teams to the Super Bowl, Fox ranks fifth among active NFL head coaches with 115 career wins. That number places him 33rd in league history as he enters his 26th year coaching in the NFL.
He has coached 33 players who have earned a total of 63 Pro Bowl selections at 14 different positions during his career.
And the Broncos are back to their winning ways with Fox at the helm.
“I want to thank John Elway and the Broncos organization for the trust they have shown in me with this agreement,” Fox said. “I’m proud of what our teams have accomplished, but our expectations are much greater as we pursue the Super Bowl championship that our fans deserve."
"We got closer this past year, but we came up short. So right now all the eggs are in the basket for '14 and doing everything we can to bring that championship back here to Denver."