Carolina Panthers coach John Fox dismissed any notions that he is worried about his job status and that starting quarterback Matt Moore is headed back to the bench during his weekly news conference.
“No, I don’t think it matters if you have four years or one year,” he said. “I don’t care if you are a player or a coach. I think the time is now, and we are all well compensated. I never worried about having a job in this league, and I’m not going to start now.”
Fox did admit the team must execute better to win and that it is easier for him to come to work when the Panthers win. Fox even referred to the 1-7 start of 2004 as an example that this season’s poor start isn’t something new during his tenure as coach in Carolina.
The running game struggles are due to several issues gone wrong on the offense, Fox said. He said if it was just one phase of the offense it would be easy to fix.
The Panthers rushed for a mere 25 yards on 17 carries against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. Starting running back Jonathan Stewart had 14 carries for 30 yards. Stewart became defensive when asked about the running game, saying, “Did you see any holes? As an offensive unit, we’re just not making enough plays. Point blank.”
However, Fox said the running game’s woes have not changed the play calling or how the offense is operated.
“I think we were able to lean on the run game a year ago and maybe in years past,” he said. “But all-in-all I don’t think we are executing the run or the pass as we need to and that is why we struggle.”
Fox did support Moore and restated that the four-year pro gives the Panthers the best chance to win. Despite the vote of confidence, Moore struggled against St. Louis. He threw three interceptions in Carolina’s 20-10 loss to the Rams.
Besides his 28-for-41 passes for 308 yards and two touchdown game against the San Francisco 49ers, Moore hasn’t played that well this season. He has thrown 10 interceptions and five touchdowns with a 55.7 passer rating. He has lost two fumbles too. Moore's 12 turnovers is more than half the Panthers' giveaways this season.
Fox said there are several problems that lead to Carolina’s poor play on offense against St. Louis. He said the team isn’t executing well, and that has a lot more to do with the 1-6 start than the play at quarterback.
Fox didn’t dwell on what Moore did wrong. Instead, Fox tried to focus on the entire offense, which has 23 turnovers and averages an NFL-low 12.1 points per game.
“I think the first play he would like to have back,” Fox said about Moore’s first interception of the game. “I don’t think they have seen it yet. I have seen it. But other than that he made some good throws, and he did some good things. There were some other areas that broke down on some of the interceptions, so that is what everybody looks at in the quarter. So, all-in-all I don’t think I can pen it on him.”
Moore, who completed 23 of 37 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown, refused to throw any of his teammates under the bus. He said the game came down to making plays and the Panthers didn’t make enough of them.
“You just have to do it,” he said about improving the offense. “Stay positive and keep working, like I said last night, ‘we have how many games left and we just have to keep going and keep plugging away and trying to get a win and keep getting better as a team and things like that.’ You just have to keep that attitude, or you have no shot.”
Moore also acknowledged that the offense can’t turn the ball over. That is something Carolina has to work on, he said.
Moore said he can avoid turnovers by making better decisions. He said there were some communication problems with the receivers.
For example, Moore threw an interception with 1:24 remaining in the game. The pass was intended for Steve Smith, who continued to run while Moore’s pass was thrown short. Rams safety Oshiomogho Atogwe intercepted the ball and retuned it 34 yards to the Panthers’ 2.
Afterwards, Moore went to the sidelines angry and said something to quarterbacks coach Rip Scherer before going toward the bench. Some of that frustration could be seen while conducting an interview at his locker on Monday afternoon.
“We just had some miscommunication I think in the passing game,” he said. “Unfortunately, that does happen. That is one of things we need to fix, especially late in the game or crucial time of the game we just can’t have that happen, but it still doesn’t matter. Still, you can’t throw the ball into coverage or whatever, so we need to correct that.”
Asked where the miscommunication was, Moore responded: “The entire passing game. Everybody involved in the passing game. I’m not going to single out one guy or two guys or whatever. It was player to player… That is all that needs to be said.”
Moore didn’t use the inexperience on offense as an excuse, either. He said this is the NFL, and everyone is getting paid to play.
“We need to play at a high level regardless of how old you are or where you been or whatever,” Moore said.
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