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October 06, 2008

Fox Q&A

Here's the transcript from coach John Fox's Monday news conference:

Fox: No new updates on the injuries -- the same three guys. We'll get you updated Wednesday on the injury front. D.J. Hackett, Hilee Taylor and Ryan Kalil, two knees and an ankle.

Q. You don't expect them to be serious, do you?

It's really be hard for me to speculate. They're getting looked at by the medical people. I don't expect it to be, though, in my humble opinion. Which means practically nothing.

Q. Can you talk about how well the defense played against the Chiefs?

It was just one game, not to sound cliche. The results were really good. But there's always room for improvement. We'll turn on the tape and see if we could have done this better or that better. We missed some opportunities, but the results were good. We'll get 24 hours off, then look at that, learn from it, wipe it away and get ready for the next one. But the results were very good.

Q. With the team simplifying the defense, did you think you'd get this kind of performance already?

We've had some really good defenses in the past. We've been to two championship games and a Super Bowl and won a championship game on the road. With the squads we had, we couldn't have done that without playing good defense. We had a good scheme then and when we've executed that scheme at a high level, we've won. I don't know that a simplified defense is the answer, getting guys executing the defense is the key.

Q. How'd the offense line play, especially with the injuries?

Again, I though the results were good. We started with two new offensive tackles and Frank Omilaye and Jeremy Bridges and had Ryan Kalil go out for a little bit. We've had that a little bit, with just about three of our first five games we've had some issues. It's a tribute to our coaching staff and players. They're accountable and when they've been called on they've done a good job. The players played good enough for us to win and the results were good. But there's more for us to improve on.

Q. Is it hard to preach to these guys to take one game at a time?

That's really not a new concept. We try to maintain that, but it's what this league's all about. Last week Kansas City beat Denver. It's just evidence every week. You look at the box scores or turn on the television, you see it every week. Our focus is to be the best we can be on any given Sunday. This one is behind us after today. That'll be our focus for next week.

Q. Are you expecting Tampa Bay to be desperate after losing to Denver and falling behind you by a game in the division standings?

It's not an exact science, whether you're coming off a win or a loss. The reality is whoever plays the best that day is going to win the game. That, like I said, it will be our focus and their focus too. We wouldn't expect anything less. It's a division game and we'll have all the same things we talked about two weeks ago against Atlanta.

Q. Will you talk about the Bucs as a team?

We haven't spent a whole lot of time with them today. I haven't seen yesterday's game yet. But we've been competing against them a long time now. They've got the same defensive coordinator (Monte Kiffen) for a long time and the same offensive coordinator (Bill Muir) all those years.

Q. How will you prepare for their quarterbacks, whether it's Brian Griese or Jeff Garcia?

They're going to run the same offensive scheme, no matter who the quarterback is. It's their ball and they'll do what they want with it. They're fine quarterbacks. They beat us here last year and we beat them there. We've done that for a long time with them. They're tough, hard-nosed games, no matter who the quarterback has been.

Q. Can you compare this Panthers team with the '03 Super Bowl team?

The goal is to get to the Super Bowl and hopefully win it. It's probably everybody's goal. It is hard to compare. The only thing is both had good records at this point. That's the comparison. The reality is, in this league, we're only guaranteed 4-12. As I've mentioned in the past, I've been on teams that were 0-4 then won 11 of their next 12 and made the playoffs. I've been on an 8-2 team that lost six in a row and finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs. So you see the circumstances. We're 4-1 and we're only guaranteed 4-12.

Q. Do you think that how you wanted to reshape the team has worked so far?

The reality is we want to be like that every year. Sometimes what you want to be and how it turns out are two different things. I don't think we wanted to be 8-8 two years ago and 7-9 last year. The reality is we didn't have a starting quarterback last year. Those thing happen. It wasn't the plan. When you can't throw the ball, it's rough. So I don't think we're really that much different or trying to be that much different but we've stayed healthier.

Q. Is the defense ahead of pace?

No, as I've said I'd like to wait until the body of work is done. We're easily into the second quarter (of the season) and we've played good enough defense to have the record we have now. What we do moving forward is hard to predict. But I like our group and how they've gone about their business. We have a rookie starting at safety and he's been good from day one, actually. For the most part we've had good additions and we haven't made that many changes. Some players have been called on, some are a year better in the NFL, the Thomas Davis's the Jon Beason's. Some young guys are sprinkled in there with some veterans and right now they have good chemistry.

Q. How does that chemistry come about?

I think as a group they like to play football and they like to play football together. It's something that started in the offseason, guys were committed, they were in there every day, they pushed each other in the weight room, and were on the practice field running, but not necessarily practicing football.

Q. How about the changes on the offensive line?

With Jeff Otah and Keydrick Vincent, we injected some new people in there, but we had a pretty good nucleus. Most of the guys playing for us now, other than Otah and Vincent, were playing a year ago. They're two important pieces, one is a first-round pick and a good player, the other's a veteran who was a good fit for us. The other guys, Ryan Kalil is in his second year and started a little last year and he's gotten a year better. We moved Travelle Wharton to guard and Jordan Gross to left tackle. They know the system, the offense and (offensive coordinator) Jeff Davidson is in his second year. That's a big factor, guys have heard him for another year. The operation also goes more smoothly when you've got your starting quarterback in there.  But there was a learning curve and the guys are a lot further along now.

Q. Can the same be said of the defensive line?

We've had some younger guys. Charles Johnson played a little last year and Tyler Brayton was a new pickup. Julius has been here, Damione Lewis has been here. Even some of the backups were around. So right now I think they're operating pretty well together and playing good team defense. That can be said for the offense as well.

Q. What went into decision to start Omilaye at tackle instead of Wharton?

The week before we probably could have except Frank was not active. So we had to go the route we did in that game. This week we had a chance to sit back, evaluate it and definitely had a plan moving into this game. So Frank being there and leaving Travelle at guard was most beneficial for us. We didn't have much choice last week.

Posted by Observer Sports on October 6, 2008 at 02:21 PM | Permalink


I think hands-down the Panthers are a better football team than Tampa Bay, but they are a team that always worries me every time that we play them.

Posted by: matt | Oct 6, 2008 2:47:53 PM

Q. Are you expecting Tampa Bay to be desperate after losing to Denver and falling behind you by a game in the division standings?

What genius asked this question?

Posted by: Authority | Oct 6, 2008 3:11:44 PM

In summary, you must not get to "high" with wins or to "low" with losses. I like this attitude of Fox and it seems to be spreading to the team. You take one week at a time and concentrate on the task at hand. More importantly, the different ways the Panthers have won 4 out of 5 is impressive enough (2 last second/minute drives and one total blowout) all while leading the league with the highest number of penalty yards! Are these penalties a sign of a lack of discipline and an embarassment, yes. Yet, if we can pull out wins while leading this most undesirable stat, then just think how dominating we will be when the penalties slow down. I see nothing but success this year and trust we will only get better as the season goes along....as long as serious injuries to key players are at bay. Let the media and "expert" commentators talk about the Giants, Cowboys, Steelers, Redskins, and Titans. We will just fly under the radar as we are accustomed of doing....then the wins and success are that much sweeter! I can't wait for this weekend!


Posted by: Carolina Wild | Oct 6, 2008 6:20:43 PM

Typical John Fox, a long list of totally non-answers.

Don't bash the interviewers too badly, talking to John Fox is like interviewing a brick wall!

Posted by: John | Oct 6, 2008 7:29:51 PM

The Panthers were under the radar when we made it to the Superbowl too. It was one of those things where you wake up one morning and you're thinking "Holy crap! The Panthers made it all the way to the Superbowl!"

Too early to start talking about that yet. All it takes is one good injury and suddenly we have a problem.

Posted by: Revshawn | Oct 6, 2008 7:49:52 PM

I love Fox as a coach but I can't stand to read interview transcripts from him. He is intentionally vague which is probably a good thing overall. But that still makes impossible for me to get excited about his speeches.

Posted by: Justin Ritchie | Oct 6, 2008 7:51:30 PM

Okay, so I love me some Panthers feetballs and have for a while (step-son's name's in the wall and happily converted from a Redskins fan 'cause all we had when I was growin' up was them or Atlanta and Dallas and... ya know? Atlanta? Dallas? PUH-LEASE!), but I gotta tell ya:

John! Grow a pair! This ain't politics and we don't need no freaking PC answers!

You keep throwing out that same vanilla crap in the Baskin-Robbins world of the NF(Freaking-azz)L and NO-ONE is ever going to get past their transplant teams!

C'mon, baby! Go all Madden with us!

Posted by: Michael | Oct 6, 2008 8:34:32 PM

LOL! Contrast Fox's style with Herm Edwards...

"Hello?! You PLAY to WIN the GAME!"

Admittedly, Fox can be a bit dry in his commentary. Okay, the Sahara is an oasis compared to Fox. But still, he's making sure he doesn't give his players any reason to get complacent by talking them up too much in the media. He's making sure he doesn't give our competition any advantage by knowing more about our players' injuries, strategies, or game plan. And so on...

It doesn't make for good sound bites, but it does make for a good coaching strategy. So, "it is what it is..." Still gotta love him. He's our coach and he wins. Let him be himself. Someday, if he wins a Superbowl or two, makes the Hall of Fame, or establishes himself for decades as the Panthers' best all-time head coach, everyone will look back on interviews like these and laugh. They've become his trademark.

My two-cents,

Posted by: NSpicer | Oct 7, 2008 7:20:50 AM

Q. Can you talk about how well the defense played against the Chiefs?

It was just one game, NOT TO SOUND CLICHE.

Come on Foxy, everyone knows you are the king of cliches. No need to point that out for us. LOL

Posted by: DB | Oct 7, 2008 9:59:23 AM

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