Home > Humor, Sports > John Fox Should Go…and His Gum

John Fox Should Go…and His Gum

Banned in 49 States

I’m writing here because my other website has been censored by WordPress.  Here is the message I received:

Warning: We have a concern about some of the content on your blog. Please click here to contact us as soon as possible to resolve the issue and re-enable posting.

I’m pretty sure it was the Christmas Vacation quote that got me blacklisted.
Until  I can get the other blog off the Vatican’s banned blog list, I’ll be posting here.

Get in the Zone but not AutoZone

You’re In the Zone.
And John Fox is on the Hot Seat.

This season the Carolina Panthers are 2-4, with losses to Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, and Buffalo.  In those losses, Carolina was outscored 61 points by its opponents.

Carolina’s two wins this season are against Tampa Bay and Washington.  In those wins, Carolina outscored its opponents by only 10 points.

If St Louis, Cleveland, Tennessee, Tampa Bay, and Kansas City weren’t so bad (a combined 2-32), you could make an argument that Carolina is one of the worst teams in the league.

“Jake The Steak”

The focus at this point is on Jake Delhomme.  Consider his stats this season:

  • Jake Delhomme  106/177 59.9% 1172 yds 4 TD 13 INT 56.5 Rating

In terms of QB rating, there are only three Quarterbacks in the NFL worse than Delhomme this season:

  • Josh Johnson  63-125  50.4%  685 yds  4 TD  8 INT  50.9 Rating
  • JaMarcus Russell  74-160  46.3%  891 yds  2 TD  8 INT  47.2 Rating
  • Derek Anderson  60-137  43.8%  605 yds  2 TD  7 INT  40.6 Rating

Many Panther fans out there (a conservative estimate would be 70-80%) including myself, have been calling for Jake Delhomme to be benched, cut, or traded.  It makes sense.  He has thrown three times as many interceptions as touchdowns so far this season.  Sure he’s accurate with a 60% completion percentage but out of his other 71 throws, 13 of them (or 18.3%) are going to the other team as interceptions.

At the current rate, Delhomme is projected to throw 35 interceptions this season.  The current record is 42 interceptions held by George Blanda for Houston in 1962.  Delhomme is on a 7 game stretch (including the dreadful playoff lost to Arizona last year) of 18 interceptions and 3 fumbles.  On top of that, in Carolina’s last two playoff losses Jake Delhomme was 32-69  49.2 %  401 yds  2 TD  8 INT  1 Fumble  35.0 Rating.

Jake and the Rocky V Phase

Watching Jake Delhomme recently is like watching Rocky V.  It’s part of the franchise so you watch it, but you can’t wait for the nightmare to be over.  It’s a predictable plot.  A loveable loser comes out of nowhere, wins the title, and after all his successes he loses it all and returns to loveable loser status, except he’s not as loveable this time around. At the end you’re wondering why you wasted two hours of your life.  Jake Delhomme is in the Rocky V phase of his career.  Let’s hope he doesn’t make it to Rocky VI (aptly named Rocky Balboa in the hopes we might forget the aberration of Rocky V).  Kurt Warner is currently in the Rocky VI phase of his career and almost made it to the unheard of Rocky VII phase.

Moore or Less Feeley

The problem with benching or cutting Delhomme (the trade deadline has already passed so that Titanic has sailed) at this point is: 1) the Panthers recently signed 34 year-old Delhomme to a 5 year $42.5 million contract extension.  You don’t sign a Quarterback to that kind of contract unless he’s the guy,  the ace, the franchise player.  If they bench or cut him now, the Panthers would be saying “he’s not our guy anymore; he’s not our franchise player.”  In essence, they would be paying franchise money to a backup to hold a clipboard and wear a headset.  Even if they wanted to trade him at the end of the season, they wouldn’t get much value for him.  2)  Also, look at talent (or lack thereof) behind Delhomme on the bench:

  • A.J. Feeley  23 Games  372-665  55.9%  4070 yds  27 TD  29 INT
    69.6 Rating
  • Matt Moore  10 Games  69-122  56.6%  793 yds  3 TD  6 INT
    64.0 Rating
  • Josh McCown  47 Games  610-1058  57.7 %  6584 yds  35 TD
    40 INT  71.3 Rating

First of all, you have to eliminate McCown from the discussion because he’s on the Injured Reserve list.  Between Feeley and Moore, they have around 2 seasons worth of experience, their completion percentages are worse than Delhomme’s, they both have more interceptions than touchdowns, and while their QB ratings are better than Delhomme’s, it’s not much of an improvement.  You’re talking about replacing a former (strong emphasis on former) Pro-Bowler with an un-proven career backup.  You’d basically be saying, “our year is over and we’re looking forward to the draft.”  I’m not against that, but it’s going to be a long season watching Feeley and/or Moore getting sacked and throwing interceptions.  Meanwhile Jake Delhomme keeps cashing in those paychecks.

“He Called You Wildcat Before”

The other option is for Carolina to shift to a Wildcat (anytime I hear this word I picture Dennis Hopper, Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in Speed) style offense.  The only time I’ve seen this work for the Panthers in a game situation was in 2006 against Atlanta.  Jake Delhomme was out with an injury and Chris Weinke (yes that Chris Weinke) was the backup.  Carolina rushed 52 times for 183 yards and passed 7 times for 11 yards…and won 10-7.  I could see this being folded into Carolina’s offense, but not as a solution to the Quarterback problem.   Eventually, somebody has to throw the ball and I don’t trust a running back anymore than a Quarterback who’s lost his arm, his mind and his mojo…unless that running back is Bo Jackson.  Bo knows Wildcat.

The Usual Suspects

So what is Carolina’s problem?

The consensus is Delhomme at this point as I’ve argued above.  Rocky V.  We’d love to forget it but Burt Young always had this uncanny sense of unintended comedy and so we tune in, even with commercials.  A change at Quarterback is bound to happen, but it’s unlikely to help.  For every Tom Brady and Kurt Warner, there are a million Feeleys and Moores (i.e. that Weinke).  If they go Wildcat, it will be an entertaining year which will bring a losing season, but not a first round pick.  Read below for the explanation.

Blame it on the Rain (or Hurney)

You could make an argument that the front office is to blame.  Why did they franchise Julius Peppers for 1 year $16.7 million when he probably won’t re-sign next year and when Carolina foolishly refuses to utilize him as a versatile DE/OLB?  Why did they sign 34-year-old Jake Delhomme to a 5 year $42.5 million after a 5 interception playoff loss, when you know he’s on the post-30-year-old down slope of his career?

In terms of draft picks, if you look at the draft dating back to 2002, Carolina has done relatively well in the first round: Julius Peppers, Jordan Gross, Chris Gamble, Thomas Davis, DeAngelo Williams, Jon Beason, and Jonathan Stewart.  Chris Gamble would be the weakest of the picks but he was a late first rounder.  Carolina was one of the teams that passed on Aaron Rodgers in 2005 when they drafted Thomas Davis at 14, and in 2008 Carolina drafted Jonathan Stewart at 13 and Jeff Otah at 19, while Baltimore took Joe Flacco at 18.  DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are a good running back tandem, but you have to consider that you’ve spent two first round picks for the production of one running back.

Outside the first round, Carolina has bombed.  None of the wide receivers have panned out: Walter Young, Keary Colbert, Drew Carter, and Dwayne Jarrett.  The only quarterbacks they’ve drafted since 2002 were Randy Fasani and Stefan LeFors, who never saw the light of day.  The best pick outside the first round that still plays with the Panthers, would either be Travelle Wharton or Dante Rosario.  Yeah it’s that bad.

To top it all off, Carolina didn’t have a first round pick in 2009 since they traded up in 2008 to get Jeff Otah.  Philadelphia ended up with the pick and took Jeremy Maclin.  And unless they work some trade magic, they won’t have a first round pick in 2010 since they traded up in 2009 for second round pick Everette Brown and fourth round Mike Goodson. Unless they find a diamond in the rough, a Tom Brady or Terrell Davis, 2010 could be another painful season to watch.

Carolina has made some head-scratching moves as of late.  It’s like watching a senior citizen trying to operate a computer.  It has entertainment value but you have a deep-seeded urge to take over the whole operation before something expensive gets irreparable damage.  But overall, Carolina is still talented and  great teams win with the talent they have.  A great coach can make average players good and good players great.

It’s Merely a Flesh Wound

Another argument that people throw out there is injuries. If you look at Carolina’s injury report, the players that have been injured through the season: Steve Smith, Dante Rosario, Na’il Diggs, Jonathan Stewart, Thomas Davis, Brad Hoover, and Jeff Otah and Everette Brown.  It’s part of the game.  Obviously, if half of your starters are out with injuries it’s going to create problems.  The second stringers don’t have comparable talent and the game experience.  Injuries happen to every team though.  Great teams play through injuries.  Without Tom Brady last season, the Patriots went 11-5 and would’ve made the playoffs if they had been in any other division.  Injuries aren’t the problem.

All of these factors have contributed to an abysmal start to the 2009 season, but it’s not why Carolina is playing their worst football in 8 years.

The Violet Beaureguarde Factor

My argument is the predictable but underrated argument that coaching is the problem.
This is why I think it’s time for the Panthers and John Fox (and his gum) to part ways.

In the Willy Wonka of NFL coaches, John Fox is Violet Beaureguarde.  You know John Fox has broken Violet’s gum-chewing streak.  Andy Reid is Augustus Gloop (Wade Phillips is a close second), Eric Mangini is Veruca Salt, Josh McDaniels is Mike Teevee, and Sean Payton is Charlie Bucket (with an honorable mention for Brad Childress).

Andy Reid will be sucked into the Chocolate river after trying, awkwardly and unsuccessfully, to include Michael Vick into the offense, as well as losing Brian Westbrook to injury and once again giving up on running the ball midway through the season by gorging himself on the West Coast Offense.  John Fox will become a giant blueberry after the three course dinner gum, which he will chew all season.  Course 1 is the appetizer: Jake Delhomme 4 TD 13 INT.  Course 2 is the entree: Matt Moore/A.J. Feeley.  Course 3 is the dessert: Wildcat sans-quarterback.  After this season, John Fox will be rolled out and juiced.  Eric Mangini is a bad egg and will plummet down a garbage chute into the Chocolate Golden Egg Sorting Room, but we won’t feel bad because we’re tired of his incessant whining.  Josh McDaniels will become miniaturized by Wonka-vision…it just seems fitting.  And Sean Payton, after the fizzy lifting drink experiment with Reggie Bush, returns to earth with Drew Brees to win the lifetime supply of chocolate and a sweet ride on the Wonka-vator.  I almost went with Brad Childress as Charlie Bucket, only because Brad Childress moped around all off-season waiting for his Golden Ticket.  Picking up Brett Favre at the airport would be the fizzy lifting drink experiment (a hilarious yet disturbing mental image), but I just don’t see Brad Childress giving back the everlasting gobstopper.

Back to reality.

John Fox began coaching the Panthers in 2002 and in 118 regular season games he has a 65-53 record with a .551 winning percentage.  Above .500 that’s good right?  At the end of last season he was tied at 10th with Lovie Smith and Mike McCarthy who have since passed him, and if you consider there are 9 new NFL coaches this year, that places Fox in the middle of the pack.

Out of 8 seasons with Fox as Head Coach, the Panthers have only had 3 winning seasons. In 2003 they went 11-5 and earned their first Super Bowl appearance where they lost to the New England Patriots due to poor clock management at the end of the game and a costly special teams penalty when John Kasay kicked the ball out-of-bounds.  This was one of those “Oh Crap Moments” when you look at whose coaching your team and you look at whose coaching the other team and you know your team is doomed (Rams fans we feel your pain).  In 2005, the Panthers went 11-5 and made it to the NFC Championship game where they lost to Seattle after 4 turnovers (3 INTs, 1 Fumble).  In 2008, the Panthers went 12-4 and lost in the Divisional round to Arizona after 6 turnovers (5 INTs, 1 Fumble).  That puts Fox’s playoff record at 5-3.

The problem with Carolina is that they haven’t executed their game plan.  If you look at this from a business perspective, every business has a mission statement.  The mission statement reflects who you are and how you do business.  For the Panthers, the mission statement is tough defense, by stopping the run and creating turnovers, and managing the game on offense by running the ball, gaining field position and reducing turnovers.

John Fox is an old school coach who is a defensive coordinator at heart.  If you don’t buy that, look at the defensive teams he’s coached: Steelers, Raiders, Giants.  The one exception you could make is San Diego, but still those three teams are old-school hard-nosed defensive teams where the mission statement would be to create turnovers and manage the game on offense.  If John Fox had his way the Panthers would run on every down and he’d make the other team beat them in the air.

These stats tell you everything you need to know about the Panthers this season:

  • Rushing Defense 133.2 yds/g (26th), Passing Defense 149.7 yds/g (1st), Total Defense 282.8 yds/g (4th)
  • Rushing Offense 128.7 yds/g (8th), Passing Offense 183.8 yds/g (22nd), Total Offense 312.5 yds/g (20th)
  • Passing Attempts 194, Rushing Attempts 176
  • Points Scored: 15.7 points/g  (25th)
  • Points Allowed: 24.2 points/g (23rd)
  • First Downs: 18.5/g (19th)
  • Red Zone %: 57.1 (13th)
  • Red Zone Def %: 61.1 (27th)
  • Takeaways:  Interceptions 3 (Tied 28th), Fumble Recoveries 4 (Tied 12th)
  • Giveaways:  Interceptions 14 (32nd), Fumbles 7 (Tied 25th)
  • Turnover Differential: -14 (32nd)
  • Sacks: 15 (Tied 14th)
  • Third Down Efficiency 25-75 33.3% (23rd)
  • Time of Possession 29:41 (16th)

Carolina is putrid on offense.  They’ve scored 11 touchdowns and committed 21 turnovers.  They’re lousy on third down and struggle to get first downs throughout the game.  They’re average in the red zone while getting outscored by 10 points a game, which is amazing considering the turnover margin.  On defense, Carolina has fared well considering they’re on the field for a good portion of the game.  When your offense turns the ball over twice as much as they score, it’s hard to hold your ground.  Nevertheless, the defense is giving up more rushing yards than it gains and it is middle of the pack when it comes to stopping teams on third down.  Carolina is lousy defending in the red zone and is not putting enough pressure on the other team to get turnovers: only seven all year.

It’s time for John Fox take his three course dinner gum and go.  Out of 8 seasons only 3 have been winning seasons, two embarrassing playoff losses and a Super Bowl loss that was like re-living every St Louis fans nightmare from 2002.  And to make matters worse, this season the Panthers are already 2-4, beating only Washington and Tampa Bay (two of the worst teams in the league), and Carolina is not executing its game plan.  Carolina has gotten away from it’s mission statement.  Stop the run (26th) and force turnovers (Interceptions 28th, Fumbles 12th) on defense, run the ball (8th– they actually do this well) and minimize mistakes (32nd) on offense.

You can blame Jake Delhomme all you want, and he may soon be replaced, but Carolina has lost its identity and is not executing its game plan…its mission statement.  This is not just a player problem, it’s a coaching problem, and after 8 seasons it’s time for the Panthers to roll John Fox into the juicing room.

Oompa Loompa doom-pa-da-dee
If you are wise, you’ll listen to me

Until next time.
You’re in the Zone.

Tyler

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Categories: Humor, Sports
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