FoxSpeak - October 7, 2004

Ever wonder what Fox really means when he answers questions from reporters? So do we. As part of an ongoing effort to "give you the straight talk", we took liberties in deciphering what Fox said and what he means.

*The following commentary features notes from Panthers coach John Fox after Wednesday's practice. The thoughts and opinions of Mike Miller do not necessarily represent the thoughts and opinions of

The Original transcript can be found at -

On how running back Stephen Davis practiced: He looked good. He moved around good. We'll have to wait and see what kind of effect the work had (on his knee) after practice.

What he meant: God, I hope he doesn't blow out his knee again like he did a couple of weeks ago. First it was Steve and now Stephen. What else could go wrong?

On if Davis will start at Denver: He is going to be day-to-day whether he is active for the game. Right now, he is listed as questionable, and we're going to take it one day at a time.

What he meant: I'm only going to tell you as much as the league makes me tell you. If you think I'm going to show my hand, ESPECIALLY when we're 1-2, forget it!

On what will determine if Davis plays against the Broncos: It's a combination of everything. That is why we say day-to-day because we evaluate it everyday. I think it (knee) held up good and he looked good in practice today. We'll see what kind of effect (practice) has on it and we'll look at it from there.

What he meant: Obviously you didn't pay attention to my previous comment Sherlock! On injuries: Brentson Buckner: knee. Stephen Davis: knee. Mark Fields: back. Karl Hankton: hamstring. Rod Smart: knee. Steve Smith: fibula. Everybody is questionable except Steve. What he meant: I'm going to start buying stock in Carolina Medical Center with the number of injuries we're having. Our training room is starting to look like a MASH unit.

On who will return kickoffs if Rod Smart does not play: We've got a variety of guys to choose from. DeShaun Foster has done it. Keary Colbert has done it. Eugene Baker has done it. We will see how it goes this week.

What he meant: What we're going to do is take a couple of guys, throw them against the wall and see who sticks. Hopefully Dan Morgan won't injure himself chewing gum and walking to the car.

On if he was surprised Smart's injury was not worse: You just never know. He obviously hyperextended it. The damage it does is hard to tell until you have the experts and medical people look at it. It was a bad hyperextension.

What he meant: With this team's luck, I'm surprised that the damn thing didn't fall off right there on the field and he had to pick it up and hop over to the sidelines. I think I'll start calling him "He Hurt Me". Maybe we shouldn't have fined him after all. Karma baby.. karma.

On what is wrong with defensive tackle Brentson Buckner's knee: It's just inflamed a little bit. He dealt with it all last year.

What he meant: It's inflamed like his head is. Egos tend to travel south when you can't back up what you say.

On if the altitude in Denver will be a factor: Physiologically, it's been proven that it is a factor. We'll go out there early, run around a little bit in it and get a feel for it and tee it up Sunday. I feel good about the conditioning level of our team. It's just a matter of how we respond.

What he meant: Right now I'm more worried about attitude than altitude. We're in top shape (for the ones that are healthy). It's what's going on upstairs that has me concerned.

On what the Panthers are doing to prepare for the altitude: There's really not much you can do. It takes you a couple of weeks to get acclimated, but we don't have that kind of time and our schedule doesn't permit us to do that. You have just got to get through on your overall cardiovascular conditioning and make do the best you can.

What he meant: What? Do you think we've created a simulated altitude tank in which the players spend eight hours a day in, getting ready for the thin air? I think you've spend too much time up there. Not enough oxygen getting to your brain!

On if the Panthers will have extra oxygen on the sideline at Denver: There will be some there. We are equipped for whatever the elements are whether it's sprayers if it's hot, heaters if it's cold or oxygen if you're in altitude. All of those things are part of the trip.

What he meant: We'll also have diapers for the babies, cold cuts for the trip out and if the players are really good, we'll stop and get ice cream at a Ben and Jerry's for the ride home.

On the mood of the Panthers: Anxious to play another game. We have got a huge test against the Denver Broncos at their place. We are going to have to bring our A-game because they are a very, very talented team.

What he meant: Well, the players are more of a somber shade of violet right now but on Sunday we're hoping that their mood puts them more into the yellow area. Our B-game was going to come but we decided against it. We thought we'd stand a better chance if the A-game came this time so we're going to try it out.

On similarities between Denver's and Atlanta's rushing offense: They are very similar. They are going to run stretch zone plays and bootlegs off of that. Denver has been doing it for years. (Offensive line coach) Alex (Gibbs) did coach there and now is with Atlanta. They are very, very similar. Whether it is an advantage or not, we have to execute.

What he meant: Both teams have running backs. Both teams take the ball and try to run between those big 300 pound guys and try to get as far as they can before we tackle them. Both teams' names are in the beginning of the alphabet.

On Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer: Jake's had good success there. They're 3-1, and I've seen him improve over the course of the season thus far. He's very capable. I saw him for years when he was at Arizona.

What he meant: They have a Jake too. How's that possible? I thought we had Jake? I wonder if he's still the snake or if he's changed back into a football player again.

On what makes Plummer an effective quarterback: A combination of things. He's got good legs. He can run around. It fits in with what they are doing with their boot and stretch game, so he has got good mobility. He's made good decisions thus far this season.

What he meant: Obviously you didn't get enough from my running back comment. I'm not even going to comment on his legs. I wish I had legs like that but I don't. Inherited it from my mom's side of the family, ya know? That and the ability to talk and say absolutely nothing… What was the question again?

On the Broncos defense: They are very, very fast. They are very active and aggressive. Their corners come up and press a lot. They are pressuring quite a bit with zone pressures. I think the play of the defense has probably been their biggest improvement.

What he meant: They have some guys that are going to rip through our swiss cheese line and give Jake a run for his money all day. Jake's already crying. I just hope we can run fast enough routes so that he doesn't come back as a pretzel.

On the Panthers averaging just 17 rushing attempts in their two losses: Sometimes the flow of the game dictates that. When you are down 24-7, it is hard to keep a steady rushing attack. Last week, I thought was a little bit different. We probably could have stuck with it a little bit longer. It is something that we need to make sure we get in our game plan and stick with it and have patience with it.

What he meant: When you can't run because you have to run to one side because you have no real offensive line and because you get down in the game early because you can't run, the only thing you can do is have everyone go long and hope someone catches the ball every now and then.

On if the Panthers defensive line has performed up to standard so far: Yes. I think we are capable of getting better. I think we are capable of getting better at a lot of different positions. Last week, we kind of harnessed the Falcons as far as us rushing (Michael) Vick, so you can't cut loose. I don't evaluate defensive line play on just sacks.

What he meant: We did our job containing Vick last week but we forgot about the rest of the team. Our guys can do better but they need to get the notion that they're the "best front four in the NFL". That was last year. What have you done for me lately?

On the Panthers run defense: I look at average more than I do runs. We are seeing a lot more runs. We are way up in pass (defense). Run defense isn't just the defensive line. Everybody on the field has got a responsibility. Too many people think if they are running the ball it's the defensive line's fault. If they are passing the ball, it's the defensive backs' fault. That couldn't be further from the truth. I don't think our run defense is a huge issue. I think there are areas for improvement. As I mentioned after the Green Bay game, yards really don't mean anything. It's the average and average per play that are what's critical. An area that we need to improve at is taking the ball away.

What he meant: Hey, at least we don't have to worry about them burning us deep! What else am I suppose to say? We suck? We can't tackle? Oh, that'll be good for morale. That's it. This interview's over until next week…

The Original unedited transcript can be found at -

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