In surprisingly deep speculation, Charlotte.com's Charles Chandler offers a between-the-lines interpretation of two tiny little words offered by John Fox in his Monday interview. We've come to expect little insight from a John Fox interview so you really have to look deep to find anything worth discussing. Here's what Fox and then Chandler had to say:
He (Fox) said the fact that Carolina started the season 2-0 despite playing without suspended receiver Steve Smith "makes us all better, him included."
The "him included" is what made the statement noteworthy.
My first thought of the Fox statement was "Well anything that makes the team better benefits Smith as he's part of the team (now)". Chandler offers more of a "Dr. Phil" type of analysis:
But what's good about it for Smith?
For starters, it keeps the pressure off of him. He's able to return to the team without feeling like he has to do big things immediately to rescue the season.
If the Panthers were 0-2, for example, it could create an unhealthy co-dependent relationship between him and the team's hopes for a playoff run.
Smith needed to know the Panthers can survive without him.
Co-dependant relationship Charles? My understanding of codependence was someone who is out to save the world, someone who is always looking for someone worse off than themselves to save. Now if Fox & Chandler are hinting that Smith has "gotten high on his horse" which led to his blow up at Ken Lucas then I might agree. Smith doesn't come across as the most humble guy on or off the field. If Smith has humbled himself then Chandler' final analysis has merit:
The guess here is that he'll appreciate being on this team more.
I still stand by my theory that Smith has to play with a chip on his shoulder to motivate himself. I think we will see a more contrite Steve Smith and a little less boisterous activity from him on the field, at least until he scores his first TD. There is a happy and hopefully definite end to this sordid saga:
It's also positive for Smith to return to a happy locker room. Players are in a good mood because they're undefeated, and several of them said after beating the Chicago Bears 20-17 Sunday that they were looking forward to having Smith rejoin them.
It really does seem that this whole affair is wrapping up about as well as we could have hoped. When the story first broke we had Eagles fans predicting the draft pick they got in exchange for Jeff Otah had suddenly risen to the top 5 because of Smith. A 2-0 start and Smith's return has this team riding high and being acknowledged as a playoff contender. Let's hope Chandler is right and Smith delivers his Pro Bowl performances. Lord knows we could use a less hectic victory!