If Not John Fox, Then Who Should be the Head Coach for the Carolina Panthers?



Before I start this post I want to make 3  things known up front. This is my first, hopefully not last, Fan Post. Second, I got most of my references from team websites, so don't sue me for plagiarism, LOL. Third, and most importantly, I really hate to post this because I am a John Fox fan. I think he's a great Xs and Os football coach, albeit a little too conservative. I personally think he has been treated very unfairly by the reluctance of the Owner/Organization to spend any money during this and previous off seasons to improve the receiving corps.

Anybody wanna bet that's the first thing the new coach addresses?

I think there are two likely scenarios that we can explore here. The first is that Jerry Richardson decides to cut bait and fires Coach fox after the 5th week going into the bye week. If this scenario comes true I believe it would behoove the Panthers to promote Ron Meeks to Interim Head Coach. This would seem the most obvious solution. Meeks has the most experience and since the team's emphasis is on defense, it would allow the defense to remain intact and virtually unchanged. The chances of actually gaining some wins would increase dramatically.

Another thing promoting Meeks to Interim Head Coach would do is hopefully take the conservative handcuffs off of Jeff Davidson. Then we would be able to see if, in fact, he has some creativity that has been stymied by Fox. I remember when he was hired he was all about changing the offense and I also remember Steve Smith being excited about the offensive game plan during  that preseason. My how things have changed...Maybe Davidson has some magic in his uncensored playbook we haven't seen. I don't know. I'm just a fan who wants to see the Panthers crawl out from under this rock they've been hiding under for the past 3 seasons. The second scenario after the jump...

The second scenario, and the most likely and logical is that Mr. Richardson endures this season and allows Coach Fox the dignity of resigning at the end of the season. I personally think he at least deserves that. I believe he has been a huge asset to the growth of the Panthers' legacy and I think he should and will be allowed to leave with as much dignity as can be expected. 

Regardless of which scenario comes to fruition, the fact remains that we will need a new head coach. Here's where the fun part begins. We've all heard about the prospect of Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden taking over the reigns. Personally, I don't want a recycled coach taking over the Panthers. Both of the coaches listed above are pretty much cut out of the same cloth as Fox and I don't think either would be an upgrade. Personally, I would prefer an up and coming ambitious coordinator to take over the reigns just as Fox did. I took the liberty of doing some research on a few coordinators I'd like to see interviewed.

One name floating out there is Leslie Frazier from Minnesota. Although he is a Defensive Coordinator, I'd hardly call this guy conservative:

• With the unique perspective of a Super Bowl winner as a player and coach, Frazier has a proven track record of success. His 1st title came as a starting CB with the 1985 Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX. Frazier marks his 12th season as an NFL coach in 2010 and has another 11 years of collegiate coaching experience. In his 11 seasons as an NFL coach, Frazier has suffered a losing season only once- his 1st season with Philadelphia in 1999. He has coached on 7 playoff teams in his 11 seasons and been a part of 6 division championships.
• Frazier's defense led the NFL in 2009 with 48.0 sacks and the team ranks 3rd in NFL with 131.0 sacks since 2007. The Vikings defense ranked #6 in the NFL in 2009, the 2nd straight season ranked #6 in total defense. The mark was the 1st time since 1993-94 the team ranked in the NFL's top 10 in consecutive seasons.
• Frazier's 2008 defensive unit ranked #6 overall in the NFL and #1 in the league against the run, making the Vikings the 1st squad since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger to lead the league in rushing defense for 3 straight seasons.
• In his debut season with the Vikings in 2007 the team maintained its dominance against the run, posting the #1 rush defense in the NFL
• The 2009 Vikings ranked #2 in the NFL against the run after leading the league for the previous 3 seasons. The Vikings tied for the NFL lead by allowing only 5 rushing TDs. The NFL-best 48 sacks posted by the Vikings was the 5th-most in team history and DE Jared Allen led the way with 14.5. Allen and DT Kevin Williams were both recognized as Associated Press 1st Team All-Pros and were named to the Pro Bowl along with CB Antoine Winfield.

Arizona's Defensive Coordinator, Bill Davis, has coached under the highly respected Ken Whisenhunt and he has ties to Carolina:

• Promoted to defensive coordinator on 2/18/09 after working as linebackers coach with the Cardinals for two seasons (2007-08).
• 19-year NFL assistant who has worked with seven other teams during his coaching career.
• Arizona's defense allowed 325 points during the regular season in 2009, the fifth-lowest total for the franchise since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978.
• Worked for two seasons as defensive coordinator for San Francisco (2005-06) prior to joining Arizona's staff.
• Served as outside linebackers coach in Carolina (1995-98) and helped guide linebackers Kevin Greene (14.5 sacks) and Lamar Lathon (13.5 sacks) to finish first and second in the NFL in sacks while each being selected for the Pro Bowl.
• Coached linebackers for Atlanta for three seasons (2001-03) and helped Keith Brooking reach the Pro Bowl in each of those three seasons.

If we're thinking of going with an Offensive coordinator, I'd like Mr. Richardson to give someone like Clarence Shelmon from the San Diego Chargers a chance:

• After spending 16 seasons solidifying his reputation as one of the NFL's top running backs coaches, Clarence Shelmon was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2007. In his first season manning this new post, the Chargers won the AFC West and advanced to the AFC Championship Game. It was a well-deserved promotion for a man who oversaw five straight 2,000-yard rushing seasons in San Diego.
• Shelmon had a hand in history in 2006 as the Chargers rushed for a team-record 2,578 yards, and LaDainian Tomlinson won his first NFL rushing title, while setting NFL records for rushing touchdowns, total TDs and points in a season on his way to earning NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year honors.
• Shelmon worked with a number of great backs during his career as a running backs coach, which began in 1991 with the Los Angeles Rams. In addition to Tomlinson, Lorenzo Neal in San Diego, Emmitt Smith in Dallas and Chris Warren in Seattle combined to go to 11 Pro Bowls while being tutored by Shelmon. Tomlinson accounted for four, Neal for two, Smith for two and Warren for three.
• Shelmon implemented several unique training methods during his coaching career, one of which is a ball-control drill that involves running to three different cones with a football that is attached to a giant bungee cord. The Chargers continue to use the drill for the team's offensive skill players.

Bruce Arians, the Offensive Coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers is also someone I'd like to see given a chance. Talk about experience:

• Bruce Arians is in his fourth season as offensive coordinator under head coach Mike Tomlin, following three seasons as the Steelers' wide receivers coach. It marks the fifth time he is serving as an offensive coordinator in his coaching career, in¬cluding one previous time in the NFL and twice at the collegiate ranks.
• Named to the Steelers' coaching staff on Jan. 24, 2004, Arians has over 33 years of coaching experience, including 17 years in the NFL.
• Arians has been instrumental in the development of quarterback Ben Roethlis¬berger. With 60 career wins, including a 22-9 mark during Arians' two seasons as offensive coordinator, Roethlisberger has a .698 winning percentage, fifth among active quarterbacks. Roethlisberger also became the second-youngest quarterback to win two Super Bowls (26 years, 336 days) when the Steel¬ers defeated the Arizona Cardinals, 27-23, in Super Bowl XLIII.
• Arians, 56, helped All-Pro wide receiver Hines Ward become one of the best wide¬outs in the NFL over the past six seasons. During Arians' first six seasons with Pittsburgh, Ward has been to the Pro Bowl twice and was named Super Bowl XL MVP after finishing with 123 receiving yards and one touchdown. Ward also became the Steelers' all-time receptions leader, surpassing Hall of Famer John Stallworth, and in 2007 became the team's career leader in receiving yards and touchdown receptions.
• Arians has also guided the Steelers to some of its most productive offensive years in the team's history. In his first year as offensive coordinator in 2007, Arians helped Roethlisberger get elected to his first Pro Bowl as he broke Terry Bradshaw's long-standing team record for most TD passes in a season with 32. Roethlisberger also finished with a career-best and team-record QB rating of 104.1. In 2009, the Steelers' offense became the first unit in team history to boast a 4,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher in the same season. Along the way the offense broke both of the team's records for passing first downs (210) and passes completed (351).
• Arians was instrumental in the development of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Pey¬ton Manning while serving as the Colts' quarterback coach for three years (1998-2000). Under Arians' tutelage, Manning totaled 4,413 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2000 to break his own club season record. His 33 touchdown passes in 2000 estab¬lished a Colts' franchise record previously held by John Unitas.

In conclusion, I really hate to see Coach fox leave, but I honestly think it's inevitable at this point. Truth be told, it's probably for the best on both sides, unfortunately. However, if we see the writing on the wall, I don't want the Panthers to be the last team searching for it's new Head Coach. I'd prefer to be one of the first. I don't want scraps from a fine dining room, I want the four course meal!

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