Saturday at the Combine, coach John Fox spoke the Charlotte Observer about some of the changes, particularly at the running back spot.
“We feel like we’ve got a good, viable guy in DeAngelo (Williams) and we’re going to have to find someone else,” Fox said. “Obviously, we’re going to have a need there.”
Alright. I hope I’m not reading too much into what the coach had to say. NFL fans have come to rely on their teams’ coaches using one form or another of “coach speak,” a nice way of referring to someone whose lips are moving without anything really coming out.
But what Fox said here is curious. We already know about DeAngelo Williams and what he can do. The guy had a 5.0 yards/carry average last season. He’s explosive and can break one on any given play. But the team must not be thinking like many Panthers’ fans are thinking – that Williams can carry the load and that he should be given the opportunity to do so.
The coach went on to talk about the team’s deire for a big bruising running back.
“A lot is made of that and it gets printed in the paper a lot, but there are successful backs that are all kinds of shapes and sizes,” Fox said. “The key is finding a good back. We’ve not had a 1,000-yard rusher since Stephen Davis (in 2003), and that was the last time we made a good run (to the Super Bowl). We need to find a guy who can help us be able to run the ball better.”
So far, we’ve ruled out Williams as the every-down running back and we’ve kicked the idea of a physical runner to the curb. Now, I’m completely confused.
The team told us not less than a month ago that they want to become the next Pittburgh Steelers. My guess was that meant that they intended bring back memories of Jerome Bettis and a big, physical defense. And I wasn’t alone. Now, are we all to believe that we were wrong? Was the team just blowing smoke up our collective backsides?
I’m not sure what to take away from what the coach told us Saturday. Does this mean that a new running back, maybe a big guy and maybe not, will be brought in to compete with Williams? If so, who will it be? Do we look forward to the team making a run for a guy like Michael Turner or going the in the opposite direction and making a play for Julius Jones.
It’s possible that what we heard the coach saying today is just talk. He could be blowing smoke for the rest of the NFL. This could just be to throw them off the trail of the Panthers’ plans. Maybe they are planning to make a play for that big-name running back.
Until the start of free agency when the team actually makes a move, we’ll just have to all sit back and listen to the coach speak.