Elway's motives far from clear 

End Zone

When debacles happen in sports, people want changes. They want scapegoats. They want decisive action. They want sanity amid the chaos.

One big move came quickly for the Denver Broncos, one day after their stunning 24-13 meltdown defeat Sunday to Indianapolis, yet another paralyzing finish to a once-promising season. Head coach John Fox, despite four division titles in four years and a 49-22 record (counting playoffs), was gone before sunset Monday.

From all we heard, the parting was mutual. Fox wanted out, and team executive John Elway wanted him out.

Elway's statement released to media made his feelings clear: "While we have made significant progress under Coach Fox, there is still work to be done. I believe this change at the head coaching position will be in the best interest of our long-term goal, which from Day One has been to win world championships."

Fox, nearing his 60th birthday, apparently was ready for a different challenge to finish his career. But Elway was just as ready to give up on Fox, deciding the pleasant coach was great for the regular season but not for the playoffs.

Still, why so fast? The immediate decision to dump Fox — because we all know Elway could have talked him into staying if old No. 7 had wanted that — cries out for more explanation.

Instead, we're left only with a jumble of questions.

We know that Elway met first Monday with Peyton Manning, so did the two quarterbacks agree on ditching Fox to salvage another year for Manning? Was that perhaps a condition for No. 18 to come back one last time?

Did Elway oppose, as we're beginning to hear, the Fox-driven move to run the ball much more late in the season, draining the passing game's continuity? Or, was Manning (quadriceps, either strained or torn) hurt worse than anybody let on at the end, given how his accuracy vanished against the Colts?

Then again, were the Broncos outcoached as thoroughly as it seemed to appear? Did they really have no other Plan B for the Colts' defensive aggressiveness? Was it really that simple to shut down Denver's offense? If so, does that mean offensive coordinator Adam Gase might not be as ready to be a head coach? Who put together the game plan, anyway?

Or did Elway have different motives? Did Manning want Gase to stay as a condition for No. 18 taking one last shot? Or, on the flip side of that, did Manning tell Elway he definitely would be retiring, at which point Elway concluded Fox wouldn't be the right architect for another quick rebuilding project?

Another question: Would this have happened if Denver somehow had beaten Indianapolis, then capsized against New England? (Can we please not even consider that the Broncos could have made the Super Bowl?)

Then again, here's yet another line of thinking: Did Elway notice the shrewd, even brilliant play-calling by his former backup, Baltimore offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, and decide to bring him to Denver as head coach — regardless of whether it's Manning's finale — so that Kubiak would be there to work with Elway in shaping whatever comes next?

And let's not forget another possible Elway-style Hail Mary: Could he be making a run to "steal" Dallas coach Jason Garrett, whose contract just expired to make him, at least briefly, a free agent?

The answers to all those questions might take a while to unravel. Did Elway already have somebody in mind (my guess) as head coach for a quick hire? Should we give more credence to the whispers suggesting that, in the end, Fox couldn't control the Broncos' collective psyche, and the players could tell that Fox and Elway weren't on the same page?

Oh yeah, and is Manning retiring or not?

Welcome, Orange Nation, to another wistful offseason.


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