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December 01, 2008

Fox defends defense, 'not in mood to debate'

' Following is a partial transcript of Coach John Fox’s Monday news conference following Sunday’s 35-31 win at Green Bay. Some questions and answers were edited for clarity and brevity.

Opening Statement: Really, we had no injuries to report. Adam Seward, who missed the game (with an ankle injury), we’ll have an update on him Thursday when we officially get back.

Q: Talk about the return game and how important that was in your coming back to win.

A: It’s always important. We’ve had some good special teams’ outings in critical times. It changes field position. That’s what special teams are for, whether it’s the punt return, which I think we averaged about 11 ½ (yards per return) … I thought our punter did an outstanding job punting the ball in some tough conditions. Return-wise, Mark Jones has done that more than just yesterday.


   Q: Describe Jones’ style returning kicks.

A: He’s smart and he’s got good vision. He works at it. He has bounced around (the NFL) a little bit. I think he realizes the importance of knowing his job. I think he’s got a good bond with those guys on the kickoff return. They rally around each other. They blocked very well and he ran very well.

Q: How did Steve Smith’s 54-yard catch at the end rank with some of his other great catches?

A: You guy s ask questions sometimes that I don’t really think about. Without going out and really studying all of them, it would be hard for me to give an educated comparison. But just to know that he has made a lot of plays like that, whether it’s a short pass and he runs the ball really well after it, or you’re not sure how he caught it … That’s what he does, and he does it very well.

Q: How did you feel Travelle Wharton played?

A: I thought that was probably one of his better games since we’ve had him. It was a challenge we made to start. I thought the hustle play he made on the fumble recovery was huge. But that wasn’t the only thing he did. He hustled and blocked very well all day, both in pass (protectdion) and the run game. I think it was one of the better games in his tenure.

Q: Why does he fit better at left guard than at tackle?

A: I think he fit well at tackle. That (guard) was the position we needed him at. That’s been a process for him too. … I don’t know if he’s just better suited there, but that’s where we needed him the most. … He’s getting better every week.

Q: Could you talk about the way the defense played? It was opposite of what it looked like earlier in the season. Is there any trend you can point to?

A: Again, I think if people want to throw it 49 or 50 times a game, it can look more like that. A few of those situations, it was like that. I just look at (whether) we score more than they score. I don’t look at yards. … I wish they wouldn’t have scored quite so many. I thought our first half was better than our second half defensively, but they adjusted and they threw it a lot more in that second half. It ended up not being enough.


Q: We talked to last week about breakdowns in run defense and th is was another week when that didn’t stand up. Could you comment on that?

A: I don’t know where you’re really going with this, but all I’d say is I think we’re in the top third in the league in defense, I think we’re 9-3 and it’s a team game and yards don’t win game, points do. So I hope that answers all your questions in one.

Q: But you have given up more points lately.

A: I think we’ve seventh in the league in points allowed. Again, my same answer.

Q: So the trend doesn’t concern you, given than you were second in the league in points allowed?

A: It all concerns me. I’m just not in the mood for debating statistics. I don’t like statistics anyway.

   Q: Do you think your defense is playing as well as it was earlier this year?

A: It’s playing well enough to be 9-3.

Q: It’s December now and the next couple of games will be big in the division. Could you talk about entering the fourth quarter of the season?

A: When you get down to the end of the season, it’s kind of like the last part of a race. There are a lot of people fighting for their playoff lives, and we’re one of them. Our focus is going to be on this week against our next opponent, which is Tampa Bay here. That’s the first game of the fourth quarter.

   Q: Is preparing for a Monday night game any different for you guys?

   A: I think the reality is you gain a day on this end and you lose a day on (the back) end. Other than that -- and it’s under lights and not sunlight -- that’s really all that really changes. … More people, I think, watch (on TV). They say they do. I don’t even know that to be true.

Q: What about the importance of this game, the huge stage, big division game, etc.?

A: It’s another big game. They’re all big. It’s a division game, a conference game, all those things that we’ve played this year. It’s a big game.”

Posted by Observer Sports on December 1, 2008 at 02:11 PM | Permalink


Good to see Fox pressed on the run defense issue even though he pretty much avoided the questions. Even in reading his responses it came across that he was getting hot and bothered about it. Good to see the media pushing his buttons

Posted by: Matt | Dec 1, 2008 2:42:17 PM

I love the post game interviews with Fox. He cant stand reporters and totally shuts them down. Great Job Fox, keep them guessing and keep winning football games. 9-3 for all you Fox haters he will be around for a while!

Posted by: pathersbeattamp | Dec 1, 2008 2:42:35 PM

Geez, Ol' John Fox sure doesn't like anyone questioning anything about his team. Heck, you would think he was Bill Belichick with all of his Superbowl trophies the way he discounts the reporters and their questions. Also, it would be different if he only dodged direct questions when we are winning, but he does this all of the time. I like Coach Fox and what he has done for our city and organization, but it's time that he realizes that he's doing a press conference and treat it as such. You know...it is what it is! Good job to date, but you better work on that defense unless you want to revise your post game quotes to include "we were better 9 times and not so good the other 7 and that's why we're not in the playoffs".

Posted by: UNCPanthers247 | Dec 1, 2008 2:43:51 PM

I don't know why I keep coming back to read these transcripts, hoping that Fox will provide an insightful answer at some point. Worst quote ever.

Posted by: Brandon | Dec 1, 2008 2:49:07 PM

I love Foxy, but why the hell does he even bother giving press conferences? They could ask him if Monday Nights Game would feature a regulation size NFL ball or a nerf football and he wouldnt be able to give a straight answer.

Posted by: South Florida Panthers Fan Club | Dec 1, 2008 2:49:08 PM

I love Foxy, but why the hell does he even bother giving press conferences? They could ask him if Monday Nights Game would feature a regulation size NFL ball or a nerf football and he wouldnt be able to give a straight answer.

Posted by: South Florida Panthers Fan Club | Dec 1, 2008 2:49:08 PM

Brandon, I agree. Why do I bother reading these. You could take the press conferences of the last 10 games and they would all read the same. If I want to know what he's going to say next week, I'll just remember what he said this week. It won't change.

Posted by: Dave | Dec 1, 2008 3:12:00 PM

Fox cracks me up. He never says anything and he hates it when people ask him how he feels about somebody who is not doing well.

To his credit, he has led a team to a 9-3 record and in good position to make the playoffs. Keep up the good work, work on the not so good stuff I say.

Posted by: John Fox is a Genius | Dec 1, 2008 3:16:01 PM

He has got to be concerned about the defense.....I have to be honest I don't like Fox, I think he's a avg Coach playing a pathetic weak schedule...when we play good teams we lose! when we play bad teams we win. period! that's how this season has gone......This is a huge game! Monday night football! If we lose this game.....It really won't matter if we make the post season or not...as that pretty much means we won't win a playoff game....

Posted by: Cheven | Dec 1, 2008 3:38:33 PM

Head coach is not an elected official. He says just as little as he has to and then goes off to coach some more. What I've never understood is why reporters seem to get so worked up by his non-responsiveness. That's the one thing he's always been crystal clear about!

I say you can look at the game if you want to know his thoughts and plans, they've always been very apparent to me. Why should he talk more? It'll just give people more to bitch about and second guess, and he's clearly going to do it his way regardless. I bet the players, the staff and the Richardsons knows what's up, and that's the only job requirement that I'm aware of! I love the guy, and I hope he never tells nobody nothin'!

Posted by: Jones | Dec 1, 2008 3:38:58 PM

I hate to say it but I think I'm the opposite of all the writers and "fans" that populate this forum everyday. I commend John Fox's defense of our defense (wow that sounds weird). Green Bay regardless of their record is not a walk-over team, and not to mention it was in Lambeau. I love his attitude toward his team, and even though there is clearly issues that need to be addressed, they aren't huge issues that need airing out to the public. And they def aren't ones that can't be resolved. Just becasue Fox doesn't advertise and open up to the media and the fans like he's on ecstacy or anything doesn't change the fact that he has his players backs and for any of us that have ever played any organized ball know...you always play harder for a coach who defends you and applauds you during the good and the bad.

Posted by: Clay | Dec 1, 2008 3:57:38 PM

I think the concern among many fans is that Fox's non-answers seem to call into question if he is even watching the games!

There can be no dispute that the last couple of games, the defense has simply been awful at times. Saying anything else is just ignoring reality.

One thing I would've asked that the reporters apparently didn't... what happened to all the touchbacks on kick offs that were the reason give for keeping two kickers? What was up with Rhys Lloyd yesterday?

Posted by: John (not Fox) | Dec 1, 2008 4:02:16 PM

Fox gives the most pathetic answers I've ever seen. This team has given up almost 80 points in just the past 2 games and he hasn't noticed because he doesn't look at numbers. This is the coaching style that doesn't get you championships. He is not making his defense accountable for thier pathetic actions, and thier pathetic defense that allowed Aaron Rodgers to look like a rejuvenated Brett Favre. I've never seen so many open recievers in my life.

Posted by: ItIsWhatItIs | Dec 1, 2008 4:23:53 PM


Enjoy the fact that we are 9-3. Just for a day give them all a break, love them or hate them, you have choices to chose your team--Go Steelers and Panthers hope to see you both in sunny Florida

Posted by: Steeler Fan And PSL Owner | Dec 1, 2008 4:26:26 PM


I agree to a certain extent, however Oakland and Detroit also torched our defense somewhat, especially on the ground. I don't think there is any way around it, our defense is not quite playing as well as it was earlier in the season and I attribute it to the front four. I think on both sides of the ball, it so often comes down to the lines. Our d-line is not getting a lot of pressure on the QB and haven't been very stout against the run. Not sure if they are wearing down a little bit or simply haven't played as well as a group. Pep alluded to it a couple of games ago.

And I don't care what Fox says, some games are bigger than others, and this one against Tampa is HUGE. We can't win the division w/o a victory and tiebreaker over Atlanta for a possible wild card spot would be damaged with the loss as well.

Posted by: Mason | Dec 1, 2008 4:33:24 PM

I'll take a head coach who excells in winning games over a coach who excells in giving interviews.

Posted by: Ward | Dec 1, 2008 4:40:06 PM

I think Fox and some of his supporters have forgotten what a press conference is supposed to be. It should be what you and I (loyal fans) would ask John given an opportunity. We are the "customer" here, and the reporters are attempting to ask what interests us. Sure, if a reporter asks a really stupid question then Fox should nail him. But I did not see any bad questions in this transcript.

IF we can't ask about the "product", or get highly defensive answers, the "customers" will start to look for a competing "product". The fans are the team's meal ticket and we want to understand what is happening. Simple as that.

Fox needs some professional help on how to deliver a successful press conference. A little coaching and practice and he will do just fine, but these are pretty embarrassing.

Posted by: Brad | Dec 1, 2008 4:41:11 PM

enjoyed the first half alot yesterday great opened up play calling,then the 2nd half started looking real familiar. Jake looked much better,O-line gave him time,The defense needs leadership,TB beat us real bad last time and I hope those memories are still fresh...not to mention,a conference game on MNF...Mr. Beason,Mr.Peppers,Mr. Harris,Coaches...get us prepared to bring it

Posted by: Pantfan1 | Dec 1, 2008 4:45:53 PM

Why do so many confuse not knowing with not telling? I mean, have any of you ever listened to Patriots press conference? Ol' Billy makes Fox sound like Shakespeare. And he's not even paranoid, not just tight lipped (as compared with Bilichick; just ask the Jets).

So if you're not happy with his coaching decisions, fine. But you make a logical leap when you tie that to what Fox does or doesn't say to the press. I think our defense has fallen off some in the last few games. And I've also seen a year-end run year in and year out that should begin in just about the next game or so. So, if you're the coach and you're gearing your team up for the tough end-of-the-schedule run that will define your season, you go out and slam their performances publicly because...why, exactly?

He's not coaching us, we're just watching.

Posted by: Jones | Dec 1, 2008 4:50:51 PM

Hopefully the offense can continue to be aggressive, and the defense can get back to it's early season form, that would be huge down the stretch... The playoffs have basically begun for us and a loss this week would really take the season out of the Panthers hands... And it's true the Packers are no push overs, heck, they took the Titans down to the wire as well!

Posted by: ANILORAC OG | Dec 1, 2008 4:55:19 PM

If we were undefeated people would still complain about Fox not talking to the media, how many yards we gave up, why our running game isn't awesome, etc. It is a sad day when Panther fans are such babies. We're having a winning season and you all are crying. I just don't get that.

Posted by: Ben | Dec 1, 2008 4:55:53 PM

Teams who give up more teams than their opponents tend to lose games. Teams who gain less yards than their opponents tend to lose games. Even if you are not a "fan of stats" you can't ignore them. Well, I guess you can if you are 9-3 on a weak schedule. And of course, you can always point to them when you like "we averaged 11.5 per return".

Posted by: Sparky | Dec 1, 2008 4:57:44 PM

I tend to think the exact opposite of Brad's post. Fox's job is to win football games. As a coach he is forced to do press but is under no obligation to reveal his thoughts or true feelings about anything. Do you want him to call out the D after a tough road win? Reveal plans/strategies or player status? I guess I can understand some frustration but I've always enjoyed his ability to talk to the press while saying nothing at all.

Posted by: rayray | Dec 1, 2008 5:03:16 PM

I wonder how this effects Ryne Robinson's job next year. I guess they will still release Jones and Robinson will return to the return role next year since he is a decent receiver.

Posted by: matt | Dec 1, 2008 5:03:19 PM


Posted by: Ben | Dec 1, 2008 5:06:43 PM

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