Carolina Panthers coach John Fox finds himself in the same position Mike Singletary was in last week.
His team is winless, 0-5, and at the bottom of its division.
And like Singletary, Fox isn’t looking at his situation as an insurmountable obstacle; he sees it as a challenge. He said his team still believes it can turn the season around, and now it’s just a matter of improving every day.
“Staying together is not the issue, it’s getting better,” Fox said during his Wednesday conference call with the Bay Area media. “We have the right kind of guys who are willing to work, and I’m sure we’ll get better.”
One of those guys who is willing to work is quarterback Matt Moore.
Moore was the Panthers’ starter for Weeks 1 and 2 before being benched, and now he’s back at the helm, ready to prove this is where he belongs.
During Moore’s conference call, he said he feels fresh and he thinks the time spent on the sidelines will help him going forward. Moore believes he’s better than his quarterback rating of 33.3, and he’s ready to get back on the field.
“The first time back at it will tell a lot,” Moore said. “I’m just looking forward to going out there and playing like I know I can play, and getting out of the funk that myself and us as an offense are in.”
Moore and the offense should get a boost from the return of wide receiver Steve Smith, who Fox said is healthy and will play this week.
Smith had been sidelined with a sprained ankle for nearly three weeks, and the passing game suffered noticeably in his absence. Smith is the unquestioned leader among Carolina’s young group of receivers, and his 13 catches for 174 yards accounts for 40.6 percent of the team’s receptions by wide receivers and 40.5 percent of the receiving yards by the group. He is also the only Panthers wide receiver with a touchdown reception this year.
“He’s a big-time player and he makes big plays,” Moore said. “He’s a game-changer. When you go into a game without that guy, it makes it rough. Having him there, obviously that is in your favor.”
Still though, Moore will be facing a 49ers defense that he called “solid all the way around.” He is particularly impressed with the 49ers linebacking corps, one that he said uses its size and speed to its advantage.
“They have two studs in the middle,” Moore said.”You asked me what stuck out, and I think their backers are the biggest thing. We just have to be aware of that.”
The Panthers believe they are better than their record indicates, so they know better than to look at their opponents record when game planning each week. When Fox looks at the 49ers, he doesn’t see a 1-5 team, he sees a talented group of players, many of who have been on the 49ers since they played against his Panthers in 2007.
Fox knows how good the 49ers can be.
“We watch tape, we don’t look at records,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what a team’s record is, it’s who plays the best on Sunday.”
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