Carolina Panthers coach John Fox participated in a conference call with the New Orleans media today. In the call, he discussed his club's quarterback situation, his success against the Saints and his familiarity with the team and Sean Payton. Below is a transcript:
You guys always play the Saints really tough. Can some of that be attributed to your familiarity with Sean Payton?
"I don't know if it's as much mean and Sean as it's a division team. We've been playing them since the inception of the division, even before Sean got there. I think anytime you have a division rival, you have those kinds of battles. It doesn't matter whether it's Atlanta, Tampa, New Orleans, vice-versa. I think it's more because of the familiarity."
Did you have any influence on Sean's behalf when he was interviewing with the Saints or for other NFL jobs?
"We've always been friends. We communicate. Somewhere along the line, I'm sure people that make those decisions asked me about Sean. Of course I have nothing but great things to say. He's definitely accomplished a lot with the Saints."
Did you anticipate the quarterback issues that your club has experienced?
"I think we went into the season with Matt Moore as our starter. We went into the preseason and didn't have much success on offense. That continued into the regular season in two games. We were basically in a funk. I changed quarterbacks the one time basically to try to spark our offense. I went back to Matt (Moore) after the bye week and we had a win against San Francisco and last week lost in St. Louis. He's going to be our guy. He's got more experience. I've watched him win games here. He hasn't been the quarterback a lot. He'd been 6-2 as the starter. Its' not just our quarterback. We haven't been executing as well as we're capable of as an offense."
Doesn't going back and forth with different quarterbacks affect the team's equilibrium?
"We've only made one change. We started with Matt, went to Jimmy (Clausen) and went back to Matt, so it's not like it's a new guy. I think they feel comfortable with Matt. I don't think we're changing all that much."
DeAngelo Williams was hobbled last week. Is he coming along?
"Yes. He's getting better. He's listed as day to day. He didn't practice today, but he's improving every day."
We talked to Jon Beason before you and he said teams have been running much more on you guys than passing. Has the run defense been a problem?
"No, I think because we haven't been scoring a lot of points, people have been taking the air out and shortening the game so to speak. We're actually playing pretty good run defense, seventh in the league. We are seeing a little bit more runs than passes. We've had quite a few takeaways. We've been known for takeaways over the years. People are just taking the air out a little bit because we haven't scored a lot of points."
Do you sense your players taking into effect your contract situation and the fact that it is in limbo a little bit?
"I don't think so. You'd have to ask them that, but I think that just like players in the last year of their deals, coaches or really anybody, whether you're in the first year or the last year, you're under contract. We're very well compensated to play this game. They're getting my best effort. I'm expecting the same from them."
Why do you think it is that the Saints seem to have trouble in Carolina?
"I don't know. All division games are close, most of them. Anytime you play a division opponent there's familiarity. You play them twice a year. You study them. You study their offseason moves. I think that just comes with the territory."