Panther Paw Prints: Fox Gets Game Ball Edition

Streeter Lecka

The Panthers got shellacked by the Broncos and though John Fox tried to pretend it was just another win it was apparent it made him very happy. We've got post game reactions and more in this batch of prints.

Out-Foxed? Carolina Panthers do little to rain on John Fox’s homecoming parade with Denver Broncos | Carolina Panthers | Rock Hill Herald Online
But it meant enough to him that the Broncos presented him with the game ball after his first game at Bank of America Stadium as a visiting head coach. "This game is fun when you win, anytime you get a victory on the road," Fox said. "I think the guys kind of knew what this was going to be like for me and it was very generous of them."

I would say they were a little over -generous. In fact, was this really the ultra-conservative coach we used to know? They guy that would opt to milk the clock with a lead instead of taking a chance?

John Fox uses Carolina Panthers’ home-field disadvantage to his advantage | CharlotteObserver.com
Here’s proof (Fox wanted to win badly): Less than four minutes remained, the Broncos clung to a 15-point lead and they had the ball third-and-seven on their 49. They did not call a draw play. They did not throw a short, safe pass. Manning went deep to Demaryius Thomas down the right side for 46 yards. The Broncos scored on the next play. To Fox’s credit, he did not call an onside kick.

The acrimony between Fox and Panthers owner Jerry Richardson undoubtedly is permanent. When the game ended and as the Broncos left the field, Fox hugged players and coaches and everybody else in Broncos gear. He might have hugged the equipment manager. He might have hugged the equipment.

Jerry is all business so it doesn't surprise me Fox left with a chip on his shoulder. Hopefully next time JR will reconsider the lame duck year as it gets you no style points down the road.

So where did it all go wrong? Up front on the offensive line was the most glaring weakness. So were you wondering if the Panthers made any adjustments to the Broncos pressure?

The Associated Press: Panthers offense falters in 36-14 loss to Denver
"We changed up our protections, did a couple of things differently and they were still able to break through," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. After a strong start, Newton finished 21 of 36 for 241 yards with two touchdown passes to tight end Greg Olsen. He threw two interceptions. Despite spending most of the day on his back, Newton wouldn't pass blame on his offensive line.

"This is the same offensive line that did an excellent job a lot of times today, so I'm not thrashing them." Newton said. "... I think personally I have to do a better job of getting the football out, getting it to my outlets."

'Getting the football out' is an understatement in my view. I know we've been critical of Newton not being under center enough but this was a game that moving to the shotgun might have given Newton more time to throw.

Is it just me or does Sean McDermott sound like a guy lobbying to keep his job?

Carolina DC Sean McDermott: Panthers defense did its part in loss to Broncos | CharlotteObserver.com
"I’m not taking anything away from the wins and losses. That’s the most important thing of our business," defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said. "But I’ve got a goal as a defensive coordinator and a vision, and we’re moving forward toward that vision. "We could have gone five games in a row holding a team under 17 points," McDermott said. "Any time you can hold a team to 13 points as long as we did yesterday, in particular a quarterback like Peyton Manning, you’ve got a lot working for you."

"Anybody who was at the field yesterday I think saw that those guys played tough, aggressive football through and through until the end of the game. And when the game was going the way it was going, to keep coming back and keep coming back and keep coming back, that speaks about what’s going on the defensive side of the ball."

The truth is McDermott is right. Unlike the offense the defense has been getting the job done.

I'm sure you've heard Special Teams coach Brian Murphy was fired today. You need look no further than one play to know why:

Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers live blog: Manning, blitz streaking - The Denver Post
Holliday burns Broncos returner Trindon Holliday opened the second quarter with a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown. He caught the punt deep in Denver territory, paused, waited, then sprinted to the right and tip-toed down the sideline for a score.

Will it be enough for Rivera to keep his job? It doesn't seem many people are ready to go to bat for him and his record gives no confidence:

Time for Ron Rivera and the Carolina Panthers to Part Ways
The Panthers are 8-17 since Rivera took over with just one victory against a team with a winning record. They are 1-10 since the start of last season in games decided by seven points or less. If he is around to see it, Rivera will face a coach that should have been considered for his job two years ago, Tampa Bay's Greg Schiano. If Rivera is employed in two weeks, lame duck Eagle coach Andy Reid may be interviewing for his job across the sideline from him.

Let's close with the biggest non-story of the weekend. Apparently someone on the west coast thought JR might actually move his team. If they would have asked me I could have saved them a dinner check:

Is Los Angeles flirting with Carolina Panthers? - latimes.com
Richardson issued a statement Sunday saying he’s dedicated to staying: “It has always been my desire that the Carolinas would be home of our Panthers. Nothing has changed. As someone who was born in North Carolina and lived much of my life in South Carolina, I hope that there would be no doubts about my personal devotion to the Carolinas.”

I say that because my guess is that was all it was. Jerry listened, smiled and said thanks for picking up dinner.

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