Panthers Still Playing Hard for Coach John Fox
As soon as the effort stops and the losing continues, Fox will be fired and Ron Meeks, the veteran defensive coordinator, will be hired.
The Panthers are 0-4 and their lame duck head coach must still be giving great effort because his team is giving great effort. As soon as Fox throws up his hands and says 'I give up', the players will see it and will follow suit.
So far, it does not look like Fox is thinking about his next job. His players are still flying around.
Fox is considered a lame duck around the NFL. He does not have a contract for next season and you can already hear the drums beating for Fox to be the hottest free agent on the market in January.
Sean Payton, the Saints' coach, said there are any number of teams around the NFL that would like to have Fox as head coach.
In front of the cameras Monday in his weekly press conference, Fox came off again as abrupt, contemptuous of questions, which is what he does routinely. He is not a sound-bite guy.
You wonder what a personable coach like this is saying, outside the lines, one-on-one, with the familiar reporter who saddles up next to him for some quick insight.
Does Fox roll his eyes as if to say, "Man, we're in trouble", or does he hold up a forefinger and thumb in a pinch as if to say "We're this close" to getting out of this mess.
The Panthers, sooner or later, are going to give Meeks an audition. Do they do it when the Panthers are 1-6, or closer to the 10th game of the season? The club is going to give Meeks a nice sample of time, maybe five-six games to see if he is the man.
*The Panthers might have to deal with one more week of poor offense. Wide receiver Steve Smith has a high ankle sprain and probably will not play against the Bears. The Panthers have a bye week after that.
Carolina will also play another week without tackle Jeff Otah, who had knee surgery right at the start of training camp. There are issues at right guard, not at right tackle where Geoff Schwartz is filling in for Otah.
• Quarterback Jimmy Clausen still has the rushed and poor mechanics that caused him to slip so far in the draft. His elbow is low, and the ball flies out off target. Rewind through the film and see if the ball gets behind his ear. Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
"I thought he competed hard...I thought he made some decent throws," Fox said. "His performance was better this week than it was a week ago. I thought he has progressively improved."
• The Panthers are almost out of options on offense. Here is one last option. Put DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart on the field at the same time, and get Williams in motion and start getting him the ball in space with some tosses.
It is a lot easier said than done. Defenses will zero in on him. The other option is to start making more use of tight end Dante Rosario.
• If you listen to the postgame rants of Panthers' fans or on-line comments they want some more innovative play-calling from coordinator Jeff Davidson. His background, by the way, is offensive line.