I was pondering yesterday, looking back on the John Fox era and looking forward to the Ron Rivera. Then it occurred to me just how much obvious talent was held back by John Fox’s preference to veteran’s complex that held us back for so many years. Some of the names that immediately come to mind are DeAngelo Williams, Greg Hardy, James Anderson, Sherrod Martin, Charles Johnson. And those are just the ones that managed to escape John Fox’s influence and show us how good they are. Imagine the countless ones that were never offered the opportunity to prove themselves such as Armanti Edwards, Kenny Moore, and Gary Barnidge.
DeAngelo Williams is a perfect example. All of 2007 he was kept behind DeShaun Foster, who managed a paltry 3.5 yards a carry throughout the entire year and cost us several games. DeAngelo Williams receives 100 carries less than he does and yet he finishes just 100 yards less than him with more touchdowns and over 5.0 yards per carry. If John Fox doesn’t keep DeAngelo Williams in the back of the depth chart, we never choose Jonathan Stewart in the 08 draft and we ride DeAngelo Williams to back-to-back winning seasons and a trip to the playoffs.
Greg Hardy is another more recent example. He was a pure star in the preseason and beginning of the year despite being held in the back of the depth chart. Several sacks and tackles behind the line, two forced fumbles, and a blocked punt highlight just a few of his achievements. Meanwhile, Tyler Brayton plays as a regular starter and he’s pretty much non-existent the entire year. And he won that job by making a measly TWO tackles during the preseason, both of them sacks. Greg Hardy gets 16 tackles and 3 sacks, and the job is given to the veteran.
Looking back, you see this kind of thing happening again and again. Some of it is hind-sight being 20-20, but a lot of it is blatantly obvious as well! Which player do you think was the worst hold-backer? Are you happy for what John Fox gave us, or do you think some of these decisions kept us from reaching our combined potential as a team?