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November 17, 2008

Fox Q&A: Monday press conference


Here's a transcript of Coach John Fox's Monday news conference with members of the media, including the Observer's Charles Chandler. Some questions and answers have been edited for brevity and/or clarity:


Q: How is Jeremy Bridges, who missed the game yesterday?

A: He’s doing good. I think they said it was an irregular heartbeat. I don’t think it’s anything real serious, although anything to do with your heart is serious. From what I understand, he’s making improvements. 


Q: Has he had that diagnosis previously?

A: No. It was the first time. It was mostly precautionary. Our medical people felt it was better to go in a different direction for the game yesterday.


Q: Was it the same kind of thing Mike Rucker had a few years back?

A: Very similar. Basically, it’s an irregular heartbeat is what I know. Much more than that, I’d be making up. I think they have it under control and we’ll evaluate it come Wednesday as far as his availability for Atlanta (next Sunday).


Q: As you move back into NFC South play, talk about going to Atlanta, which has always been a tough place to play for the Panthers?

A: They’re playing well. I think they’re a markedly improved team. We’ve played them once already, so we’re familiar with them and they’re familiar with us. Anytime you go on the road in the division, it’s tough duty, so this will be a tough test for us.


Q: How do you prepare your players to to get back into a tougher part of the schedule after playing two teams whose records aren’t good?:

A: I keep saying that’s how you guys look at it. You don’t play the game. They have to play the game, so all (games are) hard. They didn’t look at those two (vs. Oakland and Detroit in consecutive weeks) like they were a walk in the park – and they weren’t. If you asked Miami yesterday who played Oakland, I don’t think they thought it was a walk in the park. These guys know different.

Right now, the only thing we’re assured is 8-8 and every one of these is going to be important. The only one we’re focused on right now is this week’s, and that’s Atlanta.


Q: Do you hearken back to 2003 when you were 8-2 and lost three in a row?

A: Every year (has) a new personality. The team is different, the coaching staff is different. I don’t think that will come to too many of these players’ minds, other than all our focus being on the Atlanta Falcons, which is every bit as much as we need to be focused on.


Q: What things do you like in this team and what things do you think need to be improved on?

A: We’re improving. We improved yesterday in the run game. I think we’ve improved steadily throughout the season. We had to shuffle around the offensive line some to date. I think our coaching staff on that side of the ball has done an excellent job of adjusting with that. I think we’ve got two fine running backs (who) people are starting to notice, and we need to build on that. That being said, I think we can be more efficient in our pass game, not that it’s been lacking. It’s been 8-2. But it’s something I believe we can improve on, and I believe we will. We’ve shown glimpses of that, whether it be late in games, early in games or in the middle of that.

Yesterday, I thought we started a little bit slow defensively – more mentally than physically as far as where we fit. We did a couple of things movement-wise that didn’t fit perfectly, but all (are) things I think we can fix. As far as looking ahead to (the next) six (games down the stretch), I’m more looking ahead to the next one. I would hope that would be our team’s outlook.


Q: Several defensive players said yesterday they were disappointed how they’ve played run defense the past two weeks. Have there been any common threads in those two games?

A: No, not really. Defense is about fitting, whether you’re fitting right in coverage or whether you’re fitting right in the run. We’ve done a little bit more defensively as far as moving the front and what not. It only takes one guy out of their gap. Sometimes it can cause a 5- or 6-yard gain. It’s not like we’ve been awful. (Oakland) had a little bit under 300 yards (total offense) and (Detroit was) just over 300 yesterday. I thought we were way better in the second half yesterday, so we just need to come out and start faster. We’re going to need to do that this week against Atlanta. But all are things that are fixable and overall I think that side of the ball has been pretty good. It’s good that they have their bar raised pretty high.


Q: What’s been the problem in the passing game?

A: This is the ultimate team game. I don’t care if it’s the run game or the pass game. Two weeks ago was probably one of our poorer performances on the season. I thought yesterday was much better. But as we move forward, it’s an area I think we need to improve. … There really are probably not too many phases of our team right now where I think we’ve arrived and don’t need to improve anymore. We have a lot of areas to improve.


Q: Were the 19 passing attempts, a low number, a byproduct of the fact that the running game was going so well?

A: I think one of our highest quarterback ratings in the history of this franchise, I think we threw seven passes that day. That was pretty efficient. We were 4 or 7 with one touchdown.


Q: What did you think about Gary Barnidge getting kicked in head rushing the punter and getting called for roughing-the-kicker penalty?

A: That’s the ruling. It would get called like that probably 10 out of 10. We’d like to have it back. I think he’d like to have it back, because he did have an opportunity to block it. But the guy shanked it off to the left so bad he didn’t have the opportunity to. But we’ll work on that. He’s kind of new to that (punt defense) team. That’s as much our fault as anybody’s.


Q: Earlier this year you said you’d prefer the secondary be referred to as ricochet rather than toast. When a guy (Charles Godfrey) makes a catch for an interception and gets grief in the locker room for not running it back for a touchdown, is there a happy medium you’d like to see?

A: Obviously, that cliché was in reference to not catching them, but always you’d like to catch them. It’s good our guys do have their bar set high. When they do catch them, they want to score. We’ll continue to work on that area to.


Q: Players have talked about this being a close knit team compared to last year or the year before. Have you noticed that?

A: I think they enjoy each other. That’s unique. Most successful teams have that camaraderie or tightness, unity, whatever you want to call it. Winning helps that, without a doubt. But I saw early on that I thought these guys have invested a lot. They worked real hard starting in the offseason. … I would say they are a close bunch.


Q: Is this the most under-the-radar 8-2 team you’ve ever been involved with?

A: I’m not really sure what `under the radar’ is, other than flight training. It’s hard to say what everybody else says because we don’t have time to look at that and see it for the most part. I couldn’t really comment on that.

Posted by Observer Sports on November 17, 2008 at 02:33 PM | Permalink


"I'm not really sure what 'under the radar' is, other than flight training."

LMAO! Fox at his best.

Posted by: Justin | Nov 17, 2008 2:50:25 PM

He intended to say "fight in training"

Posted by: mike nelson | Nov 17, 2008 3:23:02 PM

Charles and David, you and the rest of the writers who cover the Panthers have to really struggle to get anything usable at one of Fox's Press conferences... He is the only coach I know who can sit for 30 minutes and talk, and not say anything :-)

Posted by: Mike R. | Nov 17, 2008 4:03:29 PM

Yeah, but you gotta love it! He can say anything about anything and say absolutely nothing. He's the most cryptic coach ever to grace the microphone. You listen to or read one of his press conferences and you come away knowing 3 things:
1) He really knows his team's strengths and weaknesses, and works hard to tweak them.
2) He's not going to tell the press anything that could possibly be used by opposing teams.
3) This guy has a classic sense of humor! He is hilarious!

Posted by: Wayne | Nov 17, 2008 4:43:22 PM

LOL at Fox reminder the reporters that they dont play the game!!

Posted by: matt | Nov 17, 2008 5:16:02 PM


Posted by: matt | Nov 17, 2008 5:17:49 PM

I was just watching ESPN to catch the game highlights before tonight's Red Zone session and ended up wasting 9 minutes on a insignificant topic instead. They just had a panel of people (including questioning owners and players across the league) discussing why McNabb doesn't know the overtime rules. I am really getting sick of the McNabb cr*p. Some media mutt made a sweeping statement about McNabb and changes perceptions and stirs up controversies over it for years!?! GET OVER IT ALREADY!!! I mean if McNabb does anything out of the ordinary the media is all over it. NINE MINUTES OF THEM DEBATING WHETHER OR NOT HE KNOWS THE OVERTIME RULES!!! And the worst part is that a couple of those idiots were going on about how it's everyone else's fault he didn't know. Frankly, WHO CARES!!! GEEEET OOOO-VER IIIIIIIT!!!!!

Posted by: Keeping It Real | Nov 17, 2008 7:59:57 PM

"Sometimes you can get rid of people too fast." ---John Fox on Kerry Collins current success

Posted by: Keeping It Real | Nov 17, 2008 8:38:10 PM

Umm...nobody "got rid" of Kerry Collins. That alcoholic racist QUIT ON US!

Posted by: Michael Procton | Nov 17, 2008 9:53:06 PM

I thought the GM, Coach and Owner cut him. A player can't leave a team without being released.

Maybe proctie knows more that ownership now.

Posted by: jason | Nov 17, 2008 10:30:47 PM

McNabb is washed up. He hasn't been worth a crap since he got tired in the Superbowl. The Eagles made a mistake when they traded TO. They should have traded McNabb and kept TO and Jeff Garcia.

Posted by: kevin | Nov 17, 2008 10:34:36 PM

Shut up Procton.

Anyway, love the interview of John Fox! Appologies for not posting for so long, been very busy on my fantasy team. I actually dared to start both Williams and Stewart this week....awesome.

The thing about John Fox is he can say so much and yet say so little. I think it's gotten to the point where he just enjoys it. He loves to screw with reporters, and he knows that if he doesn't give out that much information he can't get in trouble for anything.

I don't blame him either, they're crazy nowadays.

Posted by: Revshawn | Nov 17, 2008 10:38:26 PM

I'm fully aware that he was released...after he told management that "his heart was no longer in football." What a little girl. But hey, if you want to defend the actions and behavior of an alcoholic bigot, go for it.

Posted by: Michael Procton | Nov 18, 2008 12:12:14 AM

How is Kollins a racist? I missed that one. And yes, he finally admitted he was not cutting it to the coaching staff and asked to be benched.

That kind of thing happens in different ways. Think about Ricky Williams or Demitrius Underwood. The best example that fits this scenario though would be the former Madden cover boy from Tenessee. In that case, Fischer did not give up on his young disheartened QB and he just may live to see his NFL inspirations manifest themselves yet because of Jeff's actions. In other words, the Titans did not give up on him.

Posted by: Keeping It Real | Nov 18, 2008 12:53:28 AM

Procton, let's see Kerry Collins was 23 years old and millions who would not have a good time. Bottom line he was immature it happens. Way to put your college eduction to use, OOP'S I forgot about your UNC stint what happened to you?

Posted by: sam | Nov 18, 2008 7:46:00 AM

Procton, collins was young and had millions, his immaturity was what his downfall was here. That is like the pot calling the kettle black with your failed stint at one local university.

Posted by: jeff | Nov 18, 2008 7:50:55 AM

how did this become about Kerry Collins?

Posted by: matt | Nov 18, 2008 8:19:44 AM

"On the last night of Carolina Panthers training camp in 1997 Collins used the offensive racial slur "nigger" in reference to Black teammate Muhsin Muhammad while in a drunken state at a bar in Spartanburg, SC. In addition, Collins also slurred offensive lineman Norberto Garrido. This resulted in Collins being punched in the eye by Garrido. When Collins was a member of the New York Giants, he revealed that for four of his five years there he remained in therapy to deal with that issue and others."

Posted by: Michael Procton | Nov 18, 2008 8:32:37 AM

eh, sure what he said was bad, but there isnt enough there in his drunkin stupor that would qualify him as racist. Alot of people have used that word at some point, doenst make 'em racist.....nonetheless, I'm glad he was released when he was, its not like he's been lighting it up since he left.

Posted by: matt | Nov 18, 2008 8:41:10 AM

Wow. Didn't know that. At least he had a conscience about it. That is more that I can say for many throughout the world.

Posted by: Keeping It Real | Nov 18, 2008 9:49:11 AM

have always been different versions to that story, from NY times 1997 article:

"Professional football is not exempt from society's racial problems, although the National Football League is one area where blacks and whites cooperate on a daily basis. Consider the recent incident involving the Carolina quarterback Kerry Collins.

Collins apparently has the kind of relationship with a small group of black players on the team in which they can occasionally trade racial epithets, in jest, without offending one another. It has gone on for years and players say there have never been any problems.

But at a players-only party to celebrate the end of training camp several weeks ago, Collins, according to two players who were present, used a racial epithet with wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad, apparently thinking he had the same kind of leeway with Muhammad that he did with some of his other black teammates. In what context the racial slur was used is unclear.

Muhammad became highly upset, and an argument ensued. One player said it almost deteriorated into a fistfight. Eventually, things were calmed down and Collins apologized, according to several players who were at the party.

Very few people -- even team officials -- know about the incident, which occurred before Collins broke his jaw in a preseason game against the Denver Broncos. And rumors that he was punched in the face by offensive lineman Norberto Garrido as a result of the incident are untrue; the linemen did punch Collins but it was an accident that happened when the two were play-wrestling. "

Posted by: john | Nov 18, 2008 2:25:44 PM

The player who broke his jaw was Bill Romanoski. Bill is considered one of the dirtiest players.

Kerry had a drinking problem and is an alcoholic. He has straightened up and was retired on his farm in NC until Tennessee called.

I was at the very first playoff game when Kerry led the Panthers over the mighty Cowboys. The crowd stood for almost the entire game. That was the most energy I have ever felt at any sporting event.
Hopefully we will get to experience some more playoff games at home this year.

Go Kerry

Go Panthers

Posted by: jason | Nov 18, 2008 10:20:45 PM

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