In our daily package from ESPN Stats & Information, there was an item about the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL.
At first glance, I was kind of surprised to see Carolina’s John Fox at No. 4 on the list. Seems like only a few days ago, I was covering his first season. But the reality is that was 2002 and that was a long time ago in NFL terms. Fox is now in his eighth season with the Panthers.
Only Tennessee’s Jeff Fisher (16 years), Philadelphia’s Andy Reid (11) and New England’s Bill Belichick (10) have been with their franchises longer. Jacksonville’s Jack Del Rio, who was Carolina’s defensive coordinator in Fox’s first season, is tied with Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis for fifth on the list with seven seasons.
Fact is Fox has had a very nice run with Carolina and he brought the franchise back from George Seifert’s ashes when he took over. That said, he still is very much on the hot seat right now. The Panthers have struggled this season and Fox’s biggest flaw is that he never has been able to put together back-to-back winning seasons.
One other thought on Fox and his longevity. In some ways, I think it’s worked against him. Part of that’s because Fox has been very stubborn and hasn’t adapted through the years. I also think there’s a shelf life with a coach if he doesn’t change through the years and I think Fox is past that. There comes a point where players can get tired of the same old thing and stop buying in -- especially when it doesn’t seem to be working.