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Foxhole: Time will tell


Comments from Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox following the team's practice.

On his analysis of the Panthers' game against Dallas after watching the tape: We had our chances, and it was kind of the same old story as far as execution. I think more of it is mental at this stage of the game than physical, which at the end of the day for me is encouraging. We haven't seen it in the results, and everybody wants results and so do we. But I feel we've got an opportunity to get better and I'm pretty sure we will.

On what happened in the second half offensively: Everybody talks about flat and not ready and poorly coached, and everybody is entitled to opinions. But the reality is our first four possessions in the second half were three-and-outs, and we just didn't execute as well as we had in the first half. We've got to be able to put together four quarters to win a game in this league.

On if the Panthers should have run the ball more against the Cowboys: Every game takes on its own personality. We were in a lot of two-minute situations or no-huddle situations. Right before the half there weren't a lot of runs, and when you're down six and then down 14 late in the game, you're in a no-huddle situation. There is no doubt I think we are a run team first ' and we remember that ' but sometimes situations in games dictate how many times you do run the ball. If you've got a 14-point lead with five minutes to go, you run the ball more than you pass it. That's not just true with our team; that's true with any team in the National Football League.

On his message after the game and today at practice: Number one is we get to define what we are, not anybody on the outside. We've got to do a better job; we've got to do a better job of coaching; we've got to do a better job of playing in all three phases. We have the luxury if you might say to see it on tape, and there is a definite lack of execution. I don't think it's as much physical as it is mental. Those things are correctable. It's there for the taking; we've just got to take it.

On what the mental mistakes are: If I had the answer to that, I, hopefully, would have put a stop to it before now. But the reality is we are 0-3, and we haven't fixed it yet. Luckily, this bye comes at an ideal time in my estimation. I didn't feel that six months ago but I feel it now ' both mentally and physically. New, right or indifferent, we're just not executing as well as we need to. We're not getting whipped physically all over the place. You're going to get whipped some physically and you can live with that, because your opponent practices and gets paid, too. But at the end of the day we are what we are right now, and I think we can get it right.

On if his patience is being tested: When you do this job for a living your patience gets tested a lot.

On if he will bring up the 1992 San Diego Chargers who started 0-4 and made the playoffs: I remind them that there are four other (playoff) teams in the same boat. There is a team that had the best record in football a year ago that's 0-3; the Tennessee Titans had the best record in the regular season. There is a team that won a division (last year) in the AFC East, Miami, that's 0-3 right now. There's a team (Pittsburgh) that won the world championship last year that's 1-2. There's another team (Arizona) out west that went to the Super Bowl, too, that's sitting at 1-2. So we're not the lone ranger. I don't want our team to think that they are. We've got an opportunity, and what we do with it is going to be key.

On the key to the 1992 San Diego Chargers', for whom he was secondary coach, turnaround: We came in there, obviously, a first-year coaching staff. You don't go in some place because they had such great success the year before. So I'm not sure the landscape was a real positive winning type of landscape. We lost our first four games. We had one more game before our bye; we actually won that. We went into our bye at 1-4, came back and won three in a row to make it 4-4 and lost a heartbreaking game, 16-14, to Kansas City. Then we ran the table, so we won 11 of our next 12, and I believe it's the only team in history to ever do that. We had a lot tougher obstacles that year than we do right now.

On if he talks to this team differently about losing because it is a younger group: No. We're fortunate because the big eye (camera) in the sky doesn't lie. I can turn on tape and I can talk pretty honest with players in that room. That hasn't changed in the past and won't change moving forward.

On what is most encouraging that he can get the season turned around: I look at a lot of the problems as being mental. If they were all physical, then it would be one thing. A lot has been made of our defensive tackle situation. Do we have the best two tackles in the National Football League? I doubt that, but that's not why we're 0-3. A big reason why is we've turned the ball over way too much. All those teams I mentioned before are right there clumped at the bottom with us. When you turn it over 12 times in three games ' an average of four a game ' I don't care who you're playing, you aren't winning, especially (against) good teams. That's something I think we can get cleaned up. Defensively, as far as our fits in run and pass, I definitely think we can get fixed. So time will tell.

On the effect injuries have had on the Panthers' start: You want all of your weapons. I'd prefer that, but that's not an excuse. I don't think that's the only reason why we're 0-3. But any coach would rather have their starters. That's why they're called starters.

On if plans on making any line-up changes: I think even if there were I wouldn't mention them at this stage of the game. But I don't foresee anything major other than if we get starters back.

On if Jake Delhomme is still the team's starting quarterback: Yeah. I didn't even think that was a question. But if that needs to be clarified, Yes with a capital Y.

On his approach to the bye week: We've never not been in shorts and shells - at least in my seven-and-a-third years. It's been the same every year. That's what you do on the bye week.

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