A Fox-y Choice

The Panthers ended their search for a new head coach by hiring former Giants defensive coordinator John Fox. Fox came to Carolina for an interview relatively early in the process, and quickly became the leading candidate (with he exception of former Tampa Bay coach Tony Dungy). In fact, an interview with Baltimore defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis was perceived as an effort to come from behind.

Fox was impressive in his first press conference, showing a good deal of personality, passion and honesty. He acknowledged that the Panthers have a long way to go, and that knowing the team was coming off a one-win season was a positive in that there was "nowhere to go but up".

As a man with a defensive past, Fox said that he'll give the bulk of the play-calling responsibility to his offensive coordinator. That's a refreshing change for the Panthers, as George Seifert was heavily involved in the play-calling despite his defensive background.

Fox also refered to the organization as a point of attraction, and their first round draft pick (which is the second pick in the draft) as appealing points.

As usual, there were the usual goofy questions and Fox handled them with ease and class. There was the one about being no better than the Panthers third choice (behind Steve Spurrier and Tony Dungy); Fox talked instead about how thrilled he was about the opportunity for him. There was also the bizarre question about how his Giants shutout the Minnesota Vikings. Fox handled the question nicely even though the story is over one year old.

Perhaps John Fox's biggest handicap with the Panthers is courtesy of owner Jerry Richardson, who promised to re-energize the franchise and their fans when he fired George Seifert. Of the top candidates for this job, Fox was the least well-known in the Charlotte-area. But, by all accounts, he was loved by his players in New York, had a good presence in the media, and would be animated on the sidelines.

The re-energizing may not come right away, but after his first impression, it may not be long in coming.

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