The Carolina Panthers front office had a pretty specific mission starting the off season. That mission: Reduce the team’s payroll in preparation of a lockout after the 2010 season, and more importantly “stay competitive”. The opportunity never looked better with the 2010 season being an uncapped year so the veteran purge begun.
The front office began conveying to John Fox that they were looking at getting younger but wanted to stay competitive. They also stated that they wanted to relieve themselves of some aging veteran / long tem contracts. Fox never likes to part with his veteran players but knew that he was in a contract year himself and really didn’t want to oppose the Panther brass so he agreed to it. Front office conveyed building via the draft which could add to the core of young playmakers they already had i.e. Deangelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, John Beason, Sherrod Martin, Charles Godfrey, etc… Rebuilding never been John Fox thing, but it didn’t matter too much as long as he could keep “his” key players, i.e. Jake Delhomme, Brad Hoover, Damoine Lewis, Nail Diggs, etc… After the year Jake had John wasn’t opposed to having Jake take a step back to give Moore the start…, he was opposed to releasing or cutting Jake. John believed if Moore would start slow or couldn’t move the offence then I could bring back Jake and he’ll have what he wants. The thought of releasing Jake would place Fox where he didn’t want to be… without a veteran QB, especially one who listens to him, and leaving him with a young inexperienced team.
The team released Peppers after renegotiating talks & trade attempts failed, and a more manageable contract couldn’t be reached. You could blame the organization, but why would you lock up that kind of money in one player that’s not considered the QB. It would have cost them over 16+ million annually to keep him. Shortly after that the flood gates opened. The fans had been calling for Jakes head for years and they finally got it through to the front office. They released Jake Delhomme, Landon Johnson, Damione Lewis, Dante Wesley, Muhsin Muhammad, Brad Hoover, Na’il Diggs, Maake Kemoeatu just to name a few. Fox became furious with the organization because some of these cuts he wasn’t in favor of. Fox pleaded for a bigger contract in regards of the situation that the organization placed him in, which is working without “his” Quarterback and leaving him with an extremely young football team. The front office declined his request and gave Fox his walking papers if he didn’t want to fulfill the final year of his contract. Fox wasn’t ready to walkout on all those millions… he’s not crazy like one=)
Evaluating the overall situation Fox found that it wasn’t that bad and that maybe with a good draft he could do fairly well without Jake. With a stout young running game in place, a massive offensive line, a quick group line backers, a ball hawking secondary, and of course Steve “they must know my name for a reason” Smith the Panthers looked steady heading into the draft. Expectations of the incumbent starter Matt Moore was to manage games enough to win by not making mistakes (typical Jon Fox kind of Quarterback, so it intrigued him… that and the money). Needing a secondary Wideout, help at defensive end, and QB the Carolina Panther select:
2nd Round – QB Jimmy Clausen
3rd Round – WR Brandon LeFell, QB/WR Armanti Edwards
4th Round- LB Eric Norwood
6th Round – DE Greg Hardy, WR David Gettis, DB Jordan Pugh, QB Tony Pike
7th Round – DB RJ Stanford
The Carolina Panthers strong draft paid off and fans believed that the organization was moving swiftly 0to life after Jake, and that it may be sooner than later before success will follow. Drafting Jimmy Clausen was the break that the organization needed to have legitimate back-up for Matt Moore, and someone for the fans to believe in. So all was well and Fox agreed to ride this year out with enough success to land him a lucrative contract somewhere else. If the season fell short… it’s not on me, we had a young QB’s. If the season was good to great “Hello new contract and new team”. Smart enough to ensure that the world know he’s not pulling all of the strings and this isn’t his entirely all his fault Fox drops sly sayings in his comments to the press in various situations about team moves and motives.
To move Jimmy to starting Quarterback after a 0-2 start was the Panther brass not John. The move this week to start Moore after 3 straight losses by Clausen is all John Fox pleading with Panther brass to let him do his thing. Why, because his contract life after the Panthers depend on it. At 0-5 the Panthers look to run the table in futility, so Fox actually have to come to work and get his job done rather than ride this year out standing on the side line. Good or bad he’s coaching for real now, believe that. You’ll se him more animated this week then he had been all year. The outcome of the season is undetermined, but if the Panthers finish at the bottom of the league, Fox career as a Head Coach is over. Fox is known for being a conservative coach not taking chances, and that he muscles the plays he would like to see on his coordinators instead of allowing them to blossom in their own regard. Old school philosophy doesn’t apply in the modern NFL of today which could significantly decrease Fox’s chances at another head coaching position anywhere. The team has the playmakers to compete right now, that’s why the team will not trade either running back or Steve for that matter. The Carolina Panthers have a team… but now they finally have a coach to get them some wins.
How to win:
1. Start Matt Moore – He should be able to pull this one out, and it makes Clausen more hungry to get his position back.
2. Shore up the right side of the line and run more to the left.
3. Employ more Tight-end out routes and post patterns to open up your wide outs.
4. Four wide receiver single back sets with two going deep each time.
5. Start Greg Hardy opposite Charles Johnson.
Sounds simple and it is… Die hard fan like Bruce Willis… Let’s go Panthers!!!