Posted 11 May 2010 - 02:13 PM
I believe this decision by Jerry Richardson, which may have already been made, all comes down to two very important questions. Is Head Coach John Fox the coach that will get the Panthers back to the Super Bowl and win it? Can John Fox finally have a winning season against some of the NFL's best teams when the Panthers have a tough schedule which is a result of having a winning season previously? I believe Richardson must be sure that Fox can in fact improve so that both questions can be answered with a "yes" before he is awarded an extension.
Currently, I believe Richardson is no longer impressed with Fox. To date, Fox has not been able to put together back to back play-off appearances when the competition got better. Fox needs to be competitive and win even when the schedule is more difficult otherwise, the Panthers will remain a mediocre team, on again/off again, and Richardson will not accept this for the Panthers. Fox has also struggled to make the tough decisions required to keep the Panthers competitive so Richardson, either directly or indirectly, has made these decisions for Fox. Two prime examples I've already mentioned are the handling of the Delhomme and Peppers situations. Fox failed to take an aggressive, honest approach to both players when the time came to do so.
Fox has narrowly focused on one limited offensive strategy since arriving in Carolina. I think it's great and crucial to have a good running game but, the offense needs to be more than that to win consistently in this league. The team also needs a legit passing game. It appears that the league has moved on without Fox. He puts too much emphasis on the running game thereby, causing the offense to be basically one-dimensional which has proven to put too much pressure on the defense which isn't what it once was. Fox's philosophy of playing not to lose rather than playing to win has not served the Carolina Panthers well on a consistent basis.
From what I've witnessed over the past 8 eight years doesn't give me any sense of confidence that John Fox is the coach that will take the Panthers to next level. Even during the Super Bowl season of 2003, the Panthers beat many teams by just the narrowest of margins. Since then, Fox has been reluctant to lead, improve and has remained stubborn even when it's obvious that some positive change is needed.
While I remain thankful as a fan for all Fox has accomplished, he hasn't produced back to back play-off appearances or a Super Bowl victory. As with any sport, to be the best the Panthers must be able to beat the best which will require a head coach that understands what it takes to get there and is willing to take the lead. If Fox fails to show some leadership and improve upon his teams' playing philosophies, he is most definitely gone in 2011.