Over the last four years, John Fox found out a couple things.
First, doing TV is not easy – "a lot more preparation goes into television work than people fathom," he said of his time with ESPN, where he appeared primarily on "NFL Live."
Second, the longtime NFL coach missed building relationships with players.
So when an opportunity to get back into coaching presented itself in Indianapolis, Fox was excited to take on the role of senior defensive assistant with the Colts.
"I think that's probably the biggest stimulation for me and the things I missed in my life over the last couple years was the lack of those relationships, the lack of those experiences — especially on a day-to-day basis helping young people get better," Fox said. "And so it sounds simple, but it's not easy. It's a challenge that I'm really looking forward to and one that I missed very much over the last couple years. I'm kind of biting at the bit for Monday the 18th to roll around."
That April 18 date – when players return to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center for the Colts' offseason program – is approaching fast. In preparation for it, Fox has spent the last few weeks diving into the principles of defensive coordinator Gus Bradley's scheme while offering suggestions on certain aspects of it stemming from his three decades of coaching experience in the NFL.
"Gus has had a lot of success on defense wherever he's been, whether it's as a coordinator or even when he was the head coach in Jacksonville. He's an outstanding teacher. … I know Gus has an outstanding reputation and it was really beneficial for me to be a part of that and hopefully I can learn his system first and then hopefully make some suggestions as we go along like all the coaches."
Fox most recently was the head coach of the Chicago Bears (2015-2017); he also was the head coach of the Denver Broncos (2011-2014) and Carolina Panthers (2002-2010), too. Prior to becoming a head coach, Fox spent seven years as a defensive coordinator with the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders (1994-1995) and New York Giants (1997-2001).
And the Colts brought in Fox to draw upon that wealth of experience as Bradley's defense aims to stay one step ahead of where NFL offenses are going.
"First is for me to figure out exactly what they're doing," Fox said. "They've been together — (linebackers coach) Richard Smith, (defensive backs coach) Ron Milus and Gus — at a couple of different stops, so they know what to expect and what the demands will be on the players. I'm just really excited about being a part of that team. I think that's what coach Reich's looking to me for as well is drawing on some experiences I may have had. I'm not smarter than anybody else but I've been through a lot of different things and hopefully I can share some of those things with both the players and the coaches.