John Fox talked Wednesday about how the Panthers had to be enthusiastic about their jobs, despite the fact they're 0-5 heading into the bye.
Of course, moments earlier, he again distanced himself from the reasons they're 0-5, the latest in a subtle string of jabs at management.
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Asked if, given the current sorry state of the passing game, he regretted not pursuing a veteran wide receiver this offseason, Fox offered the following:
"Again, those all aren’t my decisions. We’ve got what we’ve got, it’s where we are. We’ll coach who we’ve got and try to get them better to hopefully get the results we want."
Rewind to May, when he was asked about the trade that sent safety Chris Harris to Chicago for backup linebacker Jamar Williams.
"We've got a budget, and that had something to do with it," he said.
The phrase you're looking for here is passive-aggressive.
Fox isn't about to conduct a full-bore mutiny. He enjoys far too much the $6.5 million Jerry Richardson's paying him on the final year of his stay to screw it up by saying something foolish.
But he also wants to make sure the world knows this isn't his fault, either.
The Harris remarks, even though they were 12 small words, were the first time anyone here stepped away from the party line that this year was about giving young players a chance.
Wednesday's were simply an extension, an alibi-creator for his next job search.
Granted, having Harris here wouldn't matter (defense isn't the problem), and given the problems quarterbacks Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen have endured, it's dubious to assert that one big-name receiver would have changed things.
"Nobody comes to rescue you in ths league," Fox said Wednesday. "There’s no magic formula, or magic play-call."
But there are magic words, and little by little, he's making sure to say them, just to make sure everyone knows where the fault lies -- not with him.
-- Darin Gantt