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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Panthers’ Matt Moore and Dan Connor’s seasons over with

If you’re a Carolina Panther fan and you haven’t asked for the sweet release of death yet, then kudos to you.

Matt Moore was placed on injured reserve on Monday, ending his horrific season as a first-year starter. John Fox isn’t a big fan of Jimmy Clausen, but Carolina’s front office is committed to a youth movement and wants to see what it has in the second round pick.

This is likely Fox’s final season with the Panthers, so Moore’s injury makes for an uneasy situation. He’ll likely get heat from the front office to play Clausen, even if he doesn’t think the rookie is ready to be on the field. His other option is Tony Pike (another rookie), but the former Cincinnati product isn’t ready either. Fox said Monday that the Panthers will add a quarterback, but the market is bare and with the team currently sitting at 1-7, it doesn’t matter who they bring in.

Making matters worse, Dan Connor will also miss the rest of the season after he was injured in the Panthers’ loss to the Saints on Sunday. Carolina won’t activate Thomas Davis (PUP list), so their linebacker corps is extremely thin. Jon Beason will have to move back to the middle after playing the first half of the year on the weak side and Nic Harris or Jordan Senn will take over Beason’s old spot.

It’s amazing to think that some pundits actually thought this was a playoff contender this year. Yikes.

Hurney’s decision to draft Clausen will pay off for Panthers, Moore

After the Panthers selected Jimmy Clausen in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday, many pundits started to wonder whether or not the team had confidence in Matt Moore as a starter. Then when GM Marty Hurney selected Tony Pike in the sixth round, some experts’ heads were ready to explode as they feverishly talked about how Moore may not be wanted in Carolina.

But let’s take a step back for a moment and look at the situation as a whole. Entering the draft, the Panthers had Moore and Hunter Cantwell on the depth chart at quarterback. Even if the team has confidence in Moore (which it still sounds like they do), they had to take a quarterback as insurance in case he turned out to be a disaster or suffered an injury. Say again, they had to draft a quarterback.

Reports have surfaced that Hurney was attempting to trade up in the second round to take Clausen, which does indicate that the team isn’t completely sold on Moore as their franchise quarterback. But considering Clausen was a top 15 pick who fell into the second round, Hurney would have probably kicked himself if he didn’t at least try to trade up for him. He knew he needed a quarterback and considering Clausen represented so much value in the second round, it made sense for him to try and trade up to get him. Then when Clausen fell to him anyway, it was a perfect situation.

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2010 BCS Bowl Preview: 5 Things to Watch for in the Sugar Bowl

No. 3 Cincinnati will try to put Brian Kelly’s departure to Notre Dame behind it when it takes on No. 5 Florida at 8:30PM ET on New Year’s Day. As part of our 2010 BCS Bowl Preview, here are five things to watch for in the Sugar Bowl.

1. Cincinnati’s potent passing attack vs. Florida’s vaunted defense
Led by quarterback Tony Pike and explosive receiver Mardy Gilyard, the Bearcats rank sixth in the nation in passing offense, total offense and scoring offense. Cincinnati averaged almost 40 points per game this season and houses one of the most deadly passing games in the country. That said, they’ll be heavily tested by a Florida defense that has the third best pass defense in the nation, the fourth best overall defense and the third best scoring defense. Only Alabama (11.0) and Nebraska (11.23) have allowed fewer points than Florida’s mark of 11.54. Led by defensive backs Joe Haden, A.J. Jones and Major Wright, the Gators have virtually been impossible to throw on. Making matters worse for opponents, Florida also has a fearsome pass rush, led by defensive linemen Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap. At the center is linebacker Brandon Spikes, who is the heart and soul of the Gators’ defense. Cincinnati will certainly have to earn everything it gets come New Year’s Day.

2. The Gators’ rushing attack vs. the Bearcats’ suspect run defense
Florida boasts the 10th best rushing attack in the nation, averaging 225.23 yards per game. That doesn’t bode well for a Cincinnati run defense that is surrendering over 140 yards per game this season. The Bearcats’ defense is fast and aggressive, but struggles when opponents attack them right up the middle. In their three closest games this season, Connecticut, West Virginia and Pittsburgh all had success running up the gut. If Florida starts pounding the rock up the middle, it could take control of the game early by grinding out the clock and keeping Cincinnati’s high-powered offense on the sidelines.

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The Official Sugar Bowl Smack Talk Thread: Cincinnati vs. Florida

The 2010 Sugar Bowl will have plenty of intrigue surrounding it when the Florida Gators take on the Cincinnati Bearcats on New Year’s Day. For the Gators, Tim Tebow will be playing his last collegiate game of his career, while the Bearcats will try to overcome the loss of their head coach, Brian Kelly, who ditched them for Notre Dame.

2010 Sugar Bowl Game Information
Matchup: Florida (12-1) vs. Cincinnati (12-0)
Venue: Superdome, New Orleans
Kickoff: 8:30PM ET, January 1
Odds: Florida –10

Key Stats:
Cincinnati will have its hands full trying to move the ball against a Florida team that ranks 4th in the nation in total defense, 3rd in pass defense and third in scoring. Led by linebacker Brandon Spikes, the defensive line pair of Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap, as well as a secondary headed by safety Major Wright, the Gators have one of the best defenses in the country. Offensively, Tebow leads a group that has averaged over 225 rushing yards per game this season and over 34 points per outing.

If any team were to move the ball on Florida, it might be Cincinnati, which has the sixth best offense in college football. Led by quarterback Tony Pike and receiver Mardy Gilyard, the Bearcats rank 6th in passing offense and 6th in scoring (averaging 39.83 points per game). Defensively, Cincinnati has the top passing efficiency unit in the country and are 48th in total defense.

The Bottom Line:
Cincinnati has more than enough weapons to contend in this game, but how will they fair without Kelly calling the plays? And even though this looks like a great matchup for Florida, will the Gators get up for the Sugar Bowl after failing to reach the national title game again? One would think that Tebow would get his team up to play this game, but don’t forget Alabama quit last year in this same venue and got rolled by Utah.

Let the smack begin:



Who will win the 2010 Sugar Bowl?
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