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A Valid Topic for Week Six and the Future

What does the future hold?
Yes. This is a valid topic concerning the next Head Coach for the coming season. Conventional Wisdom dictates that this is not a Week 6 topic, however reality says otherwise for these reasons.

1. A Lame Duck Head Coach whose opinion on what we need to do is simply “play better.” There was no passion or conviction to be found anywhere in the area.

2. 0-5

Well I think that about sums it up. I know David “Dkes” Kessler from carolinagrowl.com and the-sportszone.net, and being my former haunts I can tell you that at these two spots on these internets, thought flows rather randomly (and that is a lot of fun), but as long as I have known Dkes, I have seen nothing but thoughtful logic and clear expression of it, so Dkes richly deserves credit for this analysis, and yes, I think this is a topic that is open for discussion… Our current Head Coach has shown no reason to think otherwise.

There is a famous line from George Bernard Shaw’s play “Back to Methuselah,” that has been ringing in my ears all day today: “You see things as they are and ask, ‘Why?’ I dream things as they never were and ask, ‘Why not?’”

It is in this spirit that I, as a Carolina Panther fan, ask the same question with regards to our future.

Over the past 15-or-so years as a fan, one thing that I have learned is to take the “knowledge” of the local Panthers “beat writers” with a grain of salt. It seems to me that with an organization that guards itself from the media so cautiously, maybe these guys don’t know as much as they claim. Nevertheless, as fans, we have no access to the team except through these stalwarts of the Panther “pressers” (Sorenson, Reed, Fowler, Gantt, et al). As such, we are forced to accept the probability that John Fox will not be the Head Coach of the Carolina Panthers beyond this season. With that in mind, and with the spirit of “Why not?”, let’s explore just a few of the possibilities for the upcoming off season.

Bill Cowher

This seems to be the name that comes up the most when discussing who will head up the Panthers next year. It’s been well documented that he has ties to the area. He currently lives in Raleigh, one of his daughters attends Wofford and he exemplifies the standard to which the Panthers strive to emulate. Bill Cowher has a similar football philosophy to John Fox, emphasizing tough team defense, stopping the run and running the ball. The main difference is that Cowher’s Steeler teams have been very creative on offense. While maintaining a conservative offensive philosophy, he has been known for getting playmakers the ball and effectively executing gadget plays.

For the sake of asking “Why not?”, let’s presume (as has been reported) that Cowher will come complete with all the necessary football staff, including his own General Manager. This would also spell the end of the Marty Hurney era. This might be a good thing. Who can deny that the Steelers organization has done a better job with drafting and developing talent than the Panthers ever have? (It has been argued that the John Fox/Hurney Panthers have not developed talent well, if at all). This relationship might work out nicely. But it also reminds me slightly of luring George Seifert out of retirement and making him the HC and GM with a nice healthy paycheck. Oh well…nothing ventured, nothing gained.

“Why not?”

Jon Gruden

This possibility is certainly sexy.

Gruden has expressed his respect for many Panthers players and he seems to enjoy developing quarterbacks. This just might work. He would definitely bring the emphasis on offense that many of us fans so desperately desire. Many of us have grown tired watching Fox “pat fannies” and give his little golf clap after our offense trots off the field following an unsuccessful third-down play or special teams disaster. “Chucky” could certainly change that.

Gruden would bring a demonstrative passion for the game. Not that Fox isn’t passionate about football. Quite the contrary. It’s just that his passion isn’t always evident to the fans. Gruden’s sideline grimaces and antics would help us, as fans, feel that our coach is as invested in the team’s success as we are (let’ s not kid ourselves here….these coaches care waaaayy more than we do, even if it isn’t always apparent).

Gruden should feel fairly motivated to accept this job if offered. He would get to play the Buccaneers twice a year. He would get to coach his favorite all-time player, Steve Smith. He would inherit the running back tandem of “Double Trouble.” He would inherit the Ron Meeks defense that he is so familiar with. It would be an easy transition. Best of all, he would receive a very young team with an early first-round draft pick in 2011.

By taking a failing franchise and returning them to winning form, Gruden could quiet the whispers of “he did it with Dungy’s team.” It might cost the Big Cat a few extra bucks to buy out his ABC/ESPN contract, but you know what I say….

”Why not?”

Bill Parcells

That’s right, I said it. Here’s why.

Recently, Parcells commented that he is ready for his next challenge. He successfully completed his obligation to the Miami Dolphins and has been allowed the freedom to move on. Parcells provided the Dolphins the type of assistance that the Panthers desperately need.

As head of Football Operations, Parcells helped teach others the formula for on-going success in the NFL. He put in place the staff, coaches, players and systems that the organization needed to turn its fortune around. More importantly, he helped develop Jeff Ireland. Theoretically, Ireland now has the tools to identify the talent necessary to keep the ship afloat. If you ask me, I would say that we could definitely benefit from this type of tutelage. If Hurney is to remain with the Panthers, someone needs to help him refine his craft.

In this scenario, Parcells would bring in an up-and-coming coordinator to take over the head coaching duties. This is probably preferable, seeing as how the “Tuna” never stays in one place too long. That being said, he has alluded to the fact that his health is much better now than it was three years ago, hinting at the possibility that he might return to the sidelines.

Hmmm. Parcells as Head Coach of the Panthers? Well…it would look a lot like a John Fox team. Except for one thing…discipline. I must say, I don’t hate the idea. Only one question remains…

”Why not?”

Brian Schottenheimer

Not that one. Marty has already said that he’s not coming back. (Good.)

The other Schottenheimer is most likely on everyone’s short list this off season. Surely, working near his family in nearby Lake Norman would be preferable to the Buffalo job that he turned down last year. For him, it would be a good organization for him to get his head coaching career started. For the Panthers, they would get an offensive-minded head coach, in addition tobeing a former quarterback and quarterbacks coach — Something that might come in handy with the current personnel. Granted it’s not the sexiest of scenarios, but “Why not?”

Jim Harbaugh

It’s about time this guy received an opportunity. He almost had the job with the New York Jets, until they selected Rex Ryan (coincidentally, so did Brian Schottenheimer).

Jim Harbaugh is another offensive-minded coach who has quarterbacking credentials. This guy would work for the same reason that Schottenheimer would, but this fantasy scenario brings an added wrinkle:

“With the 1st pick in the 2011 NFL Draft…The Carolina Panthers select…Andrew Luck.”

I know, I know…we already have our quarterback of the future. For the record, I like Jimmy Clausen and I hope he becomes a Hall of Famer. But if you haven’t heard of Luck, you should look him up. He currently plays for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford and some projections tout him the most “sure thing,” since Peyton Manning.

Luck is incredibly smart (as if Stanford didn’t already spell that out); he plays in a pro-style offense (under center and in the shotgun), and he’s prototypical. He’s 6’4”, 235 lbs, and most importantly he doesn’t have small hands (sorry Jimmy…those are freakishly small, “carnie-like” hands). With or without Andrew Luck, Jim Harbaugh might be a great option for the Carolina Panthers.

“Why not?”

Last, but certainly not least — the elephant in the room…

John Fox

Come on, you didn’t think I’d just take those media blow-hards’ word for it, did ya?

Maybe…just maybe…Fox’s best opportunity is right here in Charlotte. Maybe his ego isn’t as bruised as the Panthers’ “beat” writers drum into us. Perhaps he is our best option.

I know…you think I’m crazy.

Consider this: The next coach of the Carolina Panthers will have to take a losing team with no identity and multiple questions at quarterback, and reinvigorate it using one very important, very high draft pick. Unless I’ve gotten my history lessons wrong, the only coach on this list to do that before is John Fox. He’s done it before. Maybe, just maybe…he can do it again.

“Why not?”

Topics: 2011 Season, @THECatCrave, Andrew Luck, Bill Cowher, Bill Parcells, Brian Schottenheimer, Carolina Panthers, FanSided, George Seifert, Jerry Richardson, Jim Harbaugh, Jimmy Clausen, John Fox, Jon Gruden, Marty Hurney

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  • J. Gore

    My hopes were very high before the start of the season and they’re still pretty high right now. I hoped that Matt Moore could lead us at least halfway through the season before Jimmy Clausen had to start taking his lumps. But bringing him back in right now is not the answer. Clausen needs to finish this season out barring injury. Aikman’s first season 1-15, Manning’s 1-15. Not saying that’s what we are facing but we as fans need to come to grips with this as being a possible reality. I knew it was gonna be tough for us to get it done this year with the loss of so many key veterans. However I didn’t think we’d be sittin at 0-5 going into the bye. But here we are. But my hope remains. Why you ask. Is it because I’m a John Fox fan? No. Is it because our schedule seems a bit weaker after the bye? No. Well it must be because I’m blind to the fact that our offense hasn’t produced and our coaching staff seems lost. No that’s not it either. I continue to hold onto hope for this team simply because this is my team.

    • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blitzradio Eric Quackenbush

      Right on, J. This is our team, man. And that’s why we continue to have hope. Some may call it blind, but then what else is there when there seems to be nothing left? We can’t abandon.

      As for changing quarterbacks, the Panthers must stay the course with Clausen. Bringing back Matt Moore would be nothing short of embarrassing. No offense to Moore intended, but the embarrassment lies in an indecisive coach, should the change be made.

  • J. Gore

    My heart will bleed black, blue, and silver until the day I die. I pulled for the 49ers when I was a kid because I longed for a team that was my own. All my friends and neighbors either liked Dallas or Washington and I despised both. Simply because it was concidered normal to pull for either. When San Fran cut ties with my childhood hero Joe Montanna I lost any team loyalty that I had. Mainly because I was to young to understand why a team would just release a guy simply because he had a few gray hairs. I followed Joe to Kansas City and pulled for him & K.C. until he retired after the 1994 season. That very next year my home state was blessed to be given the 31st franchise in the NFL. The expansion Carolina Panthers. I still pull for my former teams as long as they’re not playing against Carolina. I also think we all owe J.R. a debt of gratitude for bringing the team to the Carolina’s. Even if I don’t agree with some of the decisions that were made or with the product on the field.

    • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blitzradio Eric Quackenbush

      Until this season, Mr. Richardson really hasn’t been counterproductive with the team in free agency, etc. He’s allowed a lot in 15 years. One slow, dismal offseason and everyone is ready to try him for treason, lol.

      I do however agree with the masses that he does owe fans an explanation. We don’t have to agree with it, but just so we hear it from the horse’s mouth. That would be decent of him.

      • Dkes

        I’m with ya Eric. I support the Big Cat and all that he has done. Personally, as excruciating as the season is…it kinda gets me excited. I think we might be seeing the beginning of something good. It’s like taking off a band-aid. If you take it off slowly, it’s mildly painful for a long time. If you rip it off fast, then it hurts really bad for a short time and then it’s over. I think the Panthers have done the latter. This is gonna be an exciting ride once the CBA is signed and the Panthers get back to business.

        • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blitzradio Eric Quackenbush

          That’s a very interesting and logical way of describing it, D. By dumping so many veterans and possibly making multiple changes again in staff this coming offseason (if not sooner), it is like pulling the band-aid off quickly on a wound that has healed.

          I thank you for your contribution via GK to our site in this piece, as well!

  • J. Gore

    But regardless of what happens this season or the next I WILL continue to support and love my team. I said all of that to say this, Sunday night I sat watching the Eagles and 9ers play and could not have been further from the game as I was still in awe of the ass whippin we had just received earlier that day. Until the 4th quarter when I saw a young qb make one of the worst mistakes that could have been made by fumbleing the ball away with time winding down in a game the team was still very much alive in. Hey it happens. Not every 4th quarter has a comeback victory. But what really bothered me was what happened next. The coaching staff seemed to be certain to pull Alex Smith for backup David Carr. It was understandable. But at the last minute Coach Singletary sent Smith back in. The fans began to boo and chant “WE WANT CARR”. Even after he led the team down the field to get the team back in the game with a TD to get them back within 7 of a possible win, the crowd still booed Smith louder than Philly.

    • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blitzradio Eric Quackenbush

      “We want Carr…” Can you imagine (after what we saw from him in Carolina)?

      I didn’t even listen to the game. I was so perturbed with NFL’s Audio Pass screwing me on our game earlier in the day that I didn’t listen to any game until post halftime on Monday night. That and like you, the beating our team took against the Bears was an embarrassment.

      • hihosilver

        “We want Carr!!” I was dumbfounded. Was 2007 that long ago? Hearing that chant, took me back to a long dark season…

  • J. Gore

    This was one of the worst displays of class and sportsmanship I have ever seen in football. And I hope that I nor any of my fellow Panther fans ever stoop that low. If a guy plays badly yeah let him hear it. But know when to cut it short. Our guys are very young and talented and deserve their chance to develop into future stars. Give them that chance and your unconditional support. This to me is the true meaning of being a fan. I have finally been able to get tickets for my first NFL game and good Lord willin I’ll be at Bank of America Stadium in November to see us take on the Saints. I’ll cheer and I’ll boo but win, lose, or draw I’m gonna get to see my team in person and I’m gonna have a great time. And remember this. We could’ve just as easily been 4-1 right now. GO PANTHERS!!!

    • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blitzradio Eric Quackenbush

      If you’ve never been to a home game, it’s always a nice experience. I went to see my first home game last year (traveled 700 some-odd miles) for the whipping “we” took from the Eagles in Week One. I stayed from start-to-finish. Afterward I was disappointed in the display of the team, but even more disappointed in the display from the “fans.” It was mostly Eagles fans remaining during and after halftime. Good or bad, you must support your team — especially in the first week of the season. That’s my understanding, anyway.

      When I went home for Christmas, I got to see them play against Brett Favre and the Vikings, as well as against the Saints. So I’ve been fortunate to see Carolina in three home games. I look forward to getting down there again soon, for another home game. In that situation there really is no bad time, per se. If anything, it’s nice to spend time with the true fans who remain throughout a bad game.

      Thank you for your thoughts, J. Always appreciated.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shannonleighowens Shannon Owens

    I vote Gruden, honestly. Love Bill Cowher, but I think Gruden would be best here, best for Steve, best for the offense. He has a passion Fox doesn’t have or doesn’t show. I hated him at TB, but only because they were a rival and I loved to watch him gruel over 89. Being that he isn’t being utilized this season, I think Gruden taking over would be great.

    • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blitzradio Eric Quackenbush

      If it was my decision to make, Gruden would be at the top of my list of head coaching candidates, that’s for certain. He’s young, and given the right tools could be under contract for a number of years to come. Bill Cowher would be in his 60′s by the end of his contract. Not as…attractive. Because once again, you’re likely looking for another coaching candidate.

    • Dkes

      It’s no secret that I’ve been in favor of both Gruden and Cowher. I really like both. However, John Fox OWNED Gruden and I’m not sure that Gruden demonstrated the ability to coach up a young team. Cowher can definitely deal with the youngsters and his record far exceeds the resume of Gruden. But I’m worried about him succeeding without Dick Lebeau. I also worry about whether or not he will have the motivation after spending a couple of years making easy money. Will he be willing to put in the long hours after having it so easy on TV? I’ll still take either one. Let’s face it, they will both be a lot of fun. I’m really intrigued by Parcells/Harbaugh. Parcells as head of football operations, Hurney GM and Harbaugh as HC. I guess it’s just my flavor of the week. I’ll be back on the Cowher bandwagon next week. LOL

      • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blitzradio Eric Quackenbush

        Now that is an interesting combination, D.

    • J. Gore

      I am in full agreement with you Shannon. Gruden is our guy. He already knows the team better than any other canidate right now. I also think he’d love to get his hands on our offense. Clausen also seemed to be his favorite out of all the young qb’s this offseason. He did a sit down film room study with each of the rookies and later when asked which one impressed him the most he said “Jimmy Clausen, that kid really has what it takes.” So lets take the whole Kiper crap with a grain of salt. Don’t buy into the media just yet. Fox is most definately gone at the end of the season. But for now he’s our guy. The F/O may have hung him out to dry but the team still believes in him and so do I. Jerry should at least give us a press conference when all is said and done. He owes us at least that much.

  • Jack

    why not mention Ron Meeks?

    • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blitzradio Eric Quackenbush

      That’s a good question, Jack. Hopefully we’ll receive a response. In fact, I’d put his name in the mix before Fox’s. Especially as it seems quite likely Fox won’t be back in 2011.

    • Dkes

      Great question. Admittedly, it’s a bit of an oversight. I’ve personally trumpeted the praises of Ron Meeks for quite sometime. Frankly, he’s the only member of the coaching staff even worthy of consideration for the HC job. My personal thoughts are that we know absolutely nothing with regards to Meeks offensive philosophy. The few defensive minded coaches that I considered are proven commodities as head coaches. All others are offensive minded coaches. For that reason, I probably dismissed the thought of Meeks too soon. Furthermore, I am concerned that Meeks personality may be a little too reserved to lead this young bunch. His demeanor may be best suited for a veteran team. Now that I have made a case for why Meeks should be passed over, I would love to hear someone make a case for why Meeks should be our next HC. Personally, I like the guy and would not be terribly disappointed if he got the nod.

      • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blitzradio Eric Quackenbush

        Some good points you make, D. I dunno. I’m still curious about what Meeks could offer. His offensive strategy is definitely a mystery to me as well, and I would imagine it would be something along the lines of what’s currently in place, though not as predictable. Meeks does come across as a mild-mannered coach, but I do wonder how he’d be in a position of authority…Something tells me he’d walk softly but carry a big stick. He’s a Dungy student, so that right there says a lot IMO. He comes from that tree, so it makes me wonder if he might have a little something to offer.

        Look at Mike Singletary: brash, loud, gets in players’ faces…and you would think it would work, given San Fran’s record. It makes me wonder sometimes, if that style of coaching is really effective? Not to take anything away from Singletary or coaches who share similar coaching traits, but which method are players more responsive to in the long run? Dungy MUST have had someone on the staff to play “bad cop.” Joking aside, he was a well-respected man among his team and within the league, and was taken seriously.

  • Mark

    Unfortunately,we are discussing a possible change at HC and GM instead of talking about how great the team is doing. I was hoping beyond hope that the Panthers would at least gain a wild card berth this year,but I must be realistic and come to grips with the fact that we may not win more than three games.

    So let me see…. who would I like to see roaming the sidelines next year,who would I like to see showing more emotion than a tap on the tush or some clapping? Well, I think it needs to be someone with a pretty good handle of the offensive side of the ball,since that is where we are lacking. Cowher had a similar style offense to ours,not many big names but they figured out how to score. Gruden would be well suited,seeing as how we will be playing a QB next year with only one year of experience.

    So here is my decision…. Gruden needs to be roaming the sidelines. He is relatively young,he is energetic and he will get in your face if you screw up. The only question is if he would be willing to takeover a struggling team,the youngest team in the league.

    • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blitzradio Eric Quackenbush

      I don’t know why, but for some reason I tend to believe Chucky wouldn’t have a problem with that. Consider too, it’s a relatively stable organization, and Richardson doesn’t meddle with the day-to-day operations of the business; i.e. practices, game day, stuff like that.

  • hihosilver

    Please not Gruden. Not as a head coach anyway. I wouldn’t mind him as an offensive coordinator… Of course I’m starting to wonder who couldn’t be better than Jeff Davidson.

    For a while I was sold on the idea of bringing in Cowher, but after reading the list of options, I got really excited about the idea of Brian Schottenheimer. Love him or hate him Marty Schottenheimer jump started the Chargers and provided the team with great weapons like LT and Rivers. So you have to think that his son would’ve picked up some of that knowledge. I’d love to get a coach that could push us forward with a high octane offense like the Chargers or the Colts. Just my thoughts.

    • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blitzradio Eric Quackenbush

      A high-octane offense with the current defense would be awesome. I just want results. ;)