NFL: 0-3 Panthers insist season isn’t over
CHARLOTTEó The sign on the door leading to the Carolina weight room Wednesday told players they’ll get flu shots this week.
The Panthers spent the rest of the afternoon insisting they aren’t already sick.
After a brief practice in shorts to begin their bye week, coach John Fox reiterated that Jake Delhomme was still his quarterback, that their 0-3 record isn’t insurmountable and that their problems are more mental than physical.
A few minutes later Delhomme said emphatically that Fox, facing intense scrutiny for the team’s horrible start a year after winning the NFC South, hasn’t lost the team.
“I promise you, there’s one voice in that team meeting room that’s in charge, and it’s his,” Delhomme said.
That voice was trying to keep the team confident they can turn things around after Monday’s 21-7 setback in Dallas left Carolina one of seven remaining winless teams in the NFL.
“No. 1 is we get to define what we are, not anybody on the outside,” Fox said when asked what he told his players. “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 had the luxury, if you might say, to see it on tape. There’s definitely a lack of execution. I don’t think it’s as much physical as it is mental, and those things are correctable. So it’s there for the taking. We’ve just got to take it.”
Fox’s theme that Carolina’s woes stem from not being in the right spot instead of not being good enough drifted into the locker room.
Delhomme sounded optimistic the offense can end this stretch of 12 turnovers in three games. And Fox squashed any talk of a quarterback change, replying “Yes, with a capital Y” when asked if Delhomme was still the starter.
“When you’re 0-3 questions are going to be raised,” Delhomme said. “I haven’t played that well. Hey, that’s part of it. You’ve got to win to keep people quiet.”
The Panthers won last year behind their running game. Fox insisted game situations and their late deficit were the reasons they ran only six times in the second half Monday. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart haven’t had a chance to duplicate last season’s success, when they combined for more yards rushing by teammates in the NFL since 1984.
“There’s no doubt I think we’re a run team first. We remember that,” Fox said. “Sometimes situations in games dictate how many times we run the ball. If you’ve got a 14-point lead with 5 minutes to go, you run the ball more than you pass it.”
The Panthers haven’t had any of those leads. Their 37 points in three games is less than the 38 they allowed in the season opener against Philadelphia.
The defense, meanwhile, continues to be slow to adjust to new defensive coordinator Ron Meeks’ Cover-2 system.