Is Fox trying to stick it to Panthers’ ownership by starting St. Pierre?

ST. LOUIS - OCTOBER 31: Head coach John Fox of the Carolina Panthers looks on from the sidelines against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on October 31, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Panthers 20-10. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The only reason to start 31-year-old Brian St. Pierre over a rookie in the middle of a losing season is to stick it to management. And that’s exactly what I think Panthers’ lameduck head coach John Fox is trying to do.

Fox announced Thursday that it’ll be St. Pierre and not rookie Tony Pike starting this Sunday against the Ravens. There were probably many reasons not to start Pike (he’s not ready, he had a bad week in practice, the Ravens will literally eat him alive) but there is one very good reason to start him: Why the hell not?

Nine years ago a sixth round pick by the name of Tom Brady became a full-time starter in just his second season when veteran Drew Bledsoe fell victim to an injury. I think we all know how that turned out.

It’s very unlikely that Pike is the next Brady but how would anyone know unless he played? Had Fox elected to start the former Cincinnati product this Sunday, maybe Pike would have surprised and the Panthers could have the opportunity to see him play more this season.

Or maybe he would have thrown four interceptions in the first half and St. Pierre would have played anyway. Who knows? The point is that the ever-conservative Fox decided against playing a rookie with upside so that he can start a guy that has bounced around the NFL for eight seasons. St. Pierre has thrown a total of five passes in just two games over his career and if any team thought he could be a starting quarterback, then he would have had an opportunity by now.

Fox is on his way out of Carolina, so maybe he wants to ensure that his front office won’t have the opportunity to evaluate players that may beat him down the road. If that’s the case, then it’s a pretty unprofessional move by Fox, who has done some good things in Carolina but has mostly been a guy that has gotten by via smoke and mirrors.

And actually, let’s hope Fox is trying to stick it to management. Because if he wants to land a head coaching job again someday, he’ll have to explain why he decided to start a quarterback with no future over a rookie draft pick in the middle of a youth movement.

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Report: John Fox is interested in Browns’ job

According to Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Panthers’ head coach John Fox is reportedly “very interested” in the Browns’ job if it becomes available this offseason.

1. Fox is “very interested” in the possibility, according to a league source.

2. Panthers owner Jerry Richardson would be willing to arrive at a contract settlement to get out of the $6 million owed Fox for the 2010 season.

3. Richardson, seeing a potential owners’ lockout in 2011, would not replace Fox with Bill Cowher, but might promote from within.

4. Behind the scenes, most if not all of Mike Holmgren’s coaching and executive “ready lists” are made up of clients of agent Bob LaMonte. Fox is in that stable.

This doesn’t make sense to me. Why would Richardson allow Fox to go if he wasn’t going to replace him with Cowher? The Panthers have been the model of inconsistency under Fox over the past couple years, but his teams always play hard and usually find a way to finish respectable. So why allow Fox to jettison if Cowher (who has been linked to Carolina before) wasn’t going to be his replacement? (Unless there’s an internal candidate that Richardson really wants to promote that I’m just not aware of.)

The Browns have an interesting dilemma on their hands with Eric Mangini. Cleveland finished the season winning four in a row, including a 13-6 victory over the defending champion Steelers in mid December. But this was also the same team that looked completely inept for 13 weeks under Mangini, so why should Holmgren believe that Mangini has the Browns heading in the right direction? Four wins over the Steelers, Chiefs, Raiders and Jaguars is nice, but that’s the only thing they were: Four wins over the Steelers, Chiefs, Raiders and Jaguars.

We’ll see if there’s any teeth to this Fox rumor and monitor Holmgren’s big decision regarding Mangini.


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Has Fox saved his job or is Cowher destined for Carolina?

The Carolina Panthers have been the model for inconsistency under head coach John Fox for the better part of a decade. One year they’re up, the next they’re down.

But much like previous down years, the Panthers are finishing strong in 2009. They’ve won three of their last four games and have the opportunity to finish .500, which is quite an accomplishment for a team that had Jake Delhomme under center for most of their year.

Their strong finish begs the question: Has Fox saved his job?

Rumors are circulating that Bill Cowher wants to return to the sidelines in 2010 and Carolina might be a fit because his daughter attends N.C. State. If Cowher is interested, will the Panthers jump at the opportunity to bring him on board or will they stay loyal to Fox, a man that led the team to their only Super Bowl appearance?

Much like in previous down years, the Panthers struggled with injuries and inconsistency this season. Delhomme was a train wreck and should no longer be viewed as a starter, especially given that Matt Moore is gaining confidence with each passing week. The defense has gelled nicely under new defensive coordinator Ron Meeks and the running game is sound with the two-headed monster of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. The team could use a No. 2 receiver opposite Steve Smith but other than that, they don’t have a ton of holes.

With that in mind, is Fox the right person to get the Panthers back to the playoffs or should the front office go in another direction? Personally, if Cowher is interested I don’t know how the Panthers don’t entertain the thought of hiring him. But if he turns them down or isn’t interested, then Fox should be retained.


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Fox taking a huge risk sticking with Delhomme

For the past couple days, I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out why in the world the Panthers would stick with Jake Delhomme at quarterback.

To say that Delhomme has struggled this year would be a gross understatement. He is 2-4 as a starter, is leading the league in interceptions and has somehow found a way to make explosive receiver Steve Smith non-existent. So why stick with him instead of giving A.J. Feeley or Matt Moore an opportunity?

One reason is because the Panthers have so much money invested in Delhomme after they signed him to a five-year, $42.5 million extension in April. They thought Delhomme would shake off his brutal performance in last year’s playoffs and at the very least, be able to turn around and hand the ball off to DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.

But Delhomme has been a disaster thus far and head coach John Fox is taking a huge risk in sticking with him. If Delhomme continues to struggle and Fox doesn’t make a move, then he’s basically saying to upper management that he can’t evaluate his own players Neither Feeley nor Moore would come in and light the world on fire, but as long as they didn’t turn the ball over they’d be more efficient than Delhomme.

Fox better hope Delhomme turns things around or else they both could be gone at the end of the year. The Panthers have been a model organization for inconsistency under Fox and I highly doubt management would stick with a head coach that can’t make a change when one is needed. Fox is essentially putting all his eggs in the Jake Delhomme basket and that’s a risky endeavor to say the least.

Panthers in hell of their own making in regards to Delhomme

In the offseason, the Carolina Panthers thought that it wasn’t wise to start developing a young quarterback under Jake Delhomme, even after the veteran turned the ball over 586 times during the playoffs last year. Instead, the Panthers signed Delhomme to a five-year, $42.5 million contract extension through 2014.

We’re not even halfway through the 2009 season and Delhomme has been as bad this year as he was on that fateful night in Charlotte last January. Right now, he’s on pace to throw a whopping 35 interceptions and ranks dead last in the league in passer rating.

After his brutal effort in a loss to the Bills yesterday, head coach John Fox wouldn’t commit to Delhomme being the team’s starter in Week 8. The problem Fox has is that Matt Moore and A.J. Feeley are listed behind Delhomme on the depth chart, so it’s not like he has a viable option even if he wanted to replace Horrendous Jake.

The Panthers absolutely dominated the Bills 425 to 167 in total net yards, yet because of Delhomme’s three interceptions they couldn’t beat a below average Buffalo team. Save for his injury-plagued 2007 season, the sad part is that Delhomme hasn’t been consistently good in four years. The running game bailed him out last year or else the Panthers wouldn’t have made the playoffs.

Fox and his coaching staff should have realized that Delhomme’s better days were behind him and should have done something about it in one of the past two drafts (if not one of the last three drafts). Now they’re left with either Moore or Feeley if they want to replace him, which means the Panthers can kiss the rest of the season goodbye.

Giving Delhomme an extension in the offseason was foolish. Not having the foresight to develop another quarterback behind him is flat out inexcusable.

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