“I texted him (and) wished him well,” McCoy said on Wednesday during a conference call with the Denver media. “A great man and a great guy to work with.”
“He’s in our thoughts and prayers for a quick recovery,” he added.
As McCoy prepares to coach against the Broncos for the first time since he was hired by the Chargers during the offseason, he noted that Fox’s influence – and some of the practices he learned from Fox – weighs heavily on how McCoy runs his own team.
“There are so many things - a lot of the way we run things here now, whether its practice schedules, meetings (or) our daily operations and things,” McCoy said. “A lot of those things I learned from him and when you do it for that long a certain way it kind of gets ingrained in you. Just the way he was with the players. It was always up front and honest.”
Maintaining that candidness and camaraderie with players is one attribute in particular that McCoy noted he has tried to carry over from Fox.
“This is a tough business but when you have fun and you make a good environment for everybody they want to come to work every day,” he said. “Good things happen when you surround yourself with good people. He’s a great, phenomenal leader.”
Under McCoy, San Diego has seen its offense elevate to the tune of 403.8 yards per game, which ranks sixth in the NFL, and 300.0 passing yards per game, fourth best in the league. And while the improved play of quarterback Philip Rivers has garnered attention, McCoy pointed out that changes have been felt throughout the organization.
“I wouldn’t say it was just Philip. When we got here it was the whole entire organization and we said we’re going to make some changes,” McCoy said. “We’re going to do some things – everyone in the building, not just Philip Rivers, but everyone inside the building. All the players – everybody – coaches, personnel, whatever – it is (that) we’ve all got to do our jobs better.”
Rivers has thrown for 17 touchdown passes against just seven interceptions this year – and he pointed out that the offense enabling him to release the ball more quickly has been perhaps the biggest difference-maker in his game.
“That’s probably been the biggest difference, I would say, in the offense other than the terminology,” Rivers said. “I’ve probably thrown a lot fewer balls 25 yards down the field than I have in years past.”
“You love the way he approaches the game every day,” McCoy said regarding Rivers, whose 106.5 quarterback ranking is third-best in the NFL. “He studies all the time. He’s the first guy in, one of the last guys to leave and it’s been a pleasure to be around him. He does a great job with the rest of his teammates here, but the success doesn’t surprise us at all.”
Rivers, whose 72.2 completion percentage is tops in the NFL, noted that he believes the Chargers offense is ultimately functioning more efficiently under McCoy than it did a year ago.
“Our yards per attempt are up there, higher than last year. That means that we’re one, throwing completions, and two, our guys are making plays after the catch,” he said. “That’s the name of the game – throw the ball to our guys, try not to throw it to the other team, keep getting first downs and score as many points as you can. We’re not doing it as well as we need to, but there are signs that point in the right direction.”
One of those players who has specialized in making plays after the catch is rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen. After only being targeted four times in his first two games of the season, Allen has ignited over the Chargers’ last five contests, averaging 99.4 receiving yards per game during that span.
“He’s confident. He’s really smart and he competes,” Rivers said. “He believes that he’s going to be open on every play. He’s tough and it’s just not too big for him. I just think for a young player – and he’s got plenty of room to improve – but for a rookie in his sixth, seventh game, whatever this will be this week, he’s playing at a really high level.”
On the subject of the opposing offense rather than his own, McCoy noted that he’s not surprised by the success that Denver has achieved this year – with the Broncos entering Sunday’s matchup leading the NFL in scoring at 42.1 points per game.
“It doesn’t surprise me one bit. They’ve got a great football team there and I think everyone knew that after we got on a roll last year – what the offense can do,” McCoy said. “The more time you spend together in any system it’s not just that system, but the more time players spend together with the quality of players they are you knew they could go as far as they wanted to and do what they’re doing right now.”
McCoy also noted that he doesn’t expect the Broncos to play any differently under Interim Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio in the wake of Fox’s absence.
“They’re not changing. Jack has got a great system,” he said. “We were together in Carolina (in) 2002 and he’s been very successful since he’s had the system. He did a great job last year there and he’ll do a great job. They’re lucky to have Jack.”
And while the Chargers enter Sunday’s game on the heels of a tough loss – a 30-24 overtime setback at Washington – Rivers noted that the team is only looking forward to the opportunity it has in its final eight games of the season.
“We can’t change those games. There’s nothing I can say or do to make those change,” Rivers said. “We are what our record is. That being said, we have a chance. I think at this point, you’re not satisfied with it, but you at least are in it, especially when you have all these division games coming up.”