Bus Stops: Fox's job in jeopardy; Steelers defense in big trouble
John Fox stuck by Jake Delhomme ... and may get burned for it
Pittsburgh's defense not good enough to overcome loss of Troy Polamalu
Andy Reid may be able to start Vick without risking a quarterback controversy
Throughout the 2009 NFL season, SI.com's Adam Duerson will work with Jerome Bettis to get the six-time Pro Bowl running back's observations about the previous week's games. Bettis retired from the NFL in 2006 after a 13-year career.
1. Someone needs to lose their job in Carolina. I was in Las Vegas for an event last weekend, and on Sunday I went to the best possible place to catch every game: a sportsbook. And of the nine games playing across those big screens early in the day, I couldn't keep my eye off one thing: Jake Delhomme. I saw a quarterback who should not be starting on any NFL team. The way he's played his past two games -- five interceptions against the Cardinals in the playoffs; four yesterday against the Eagles -- I have to think this guy is just done. Toast. And if Jake Delhomme is done, John Fox is going to get fired.
Fox saw that playoff game last year firsthand. He had an entire offseason to evaluate his passers. And he didn't take the necessary steps to ensure the franchise's success down the line. Whether it was a free agent -- Matt Cassel, Sage Rosenfels, Michael Vick -- or even a rookie in the draft, he didn't demand a quarterback to challenge Delhomme.
Instead, the Panthers gave Delhomme a five-year contract extension, and now they don't have anyone else who can compete for the position. Fox went through the whole darn depth chart yesterday and didn't see a positive thing from anyone.
To me, that all goes on the coach. Coaches live and die by their quarterbacks, and Fox is riding Jake Delhomme to his grave. If he wants to save his job, he ought to be looking for options, whether it be a veteran who got released in the preseason or someone in a trade. Maybe it's time to call Minnesota about one of its backups.
Look at the Panthers' schedule. They have the Falcons, Cowboys and Redskins coming up: three losable games. If they go 0-4, I would fire John Fox. He's stuck with Jake Delhomme, who has repeatedly shown that he's not an elite quarterback. He's provided himself no alternatives. Without a huge turnaround, I think this is the end of the road for John Fox.
2. Steelers' Super Bowl hopes took a big blow in Week 1. On Thursday night the Steelers went from being a great defense to merely a good defense in just one play against the Titans. You simply can't replace a player like Troy Polamalu, and we all saw the Steelers give up some big plays right away after he left with a knee injury. When he's healthy, Troy's all over the field. Before he left that game it seemed his name was being called every play: Troy on a tackle, Troy on an interception, Troy with a penalty. Whatever happened, he was involved. But without him in the game, the field becomes a lot bigger and more exposed.
People will say, "Well, they still have James Harrison and Casey Hampton and so on..." Irrelevant. Troy's really the only guy on this defense that I see as a full playmaker. Sure, James Harrison gets after the QB. But Troy is all over the field. He can change the outcome of a game in one play. Without him, this becomes a good defense with a very ordinary secondary.
Now, here's what worries me: I've had an MCL injury and the thing it affects the most is the lateral movement. Sure, you can run straight lines. But when you have to go left and right it becomes a problem. If you've ever watched Troy, you know he's so unpredictable in how he moves -- all over the place. An MCL could be a bigger problem for a guy who moves like that. I expect to see him out on the longer side of the projected three to six weeks. If it goes longer, could they win another Super Bowl without him? I don't think so.
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