John Fox and Andy Reid's teams have tangled four times since Fox became the head coach of the Panthers in 2002. But don't forget that the two clashed twice annually when Fox was defensive coordinator of the Giants, which preceded Reid's arrival to Philadelphia in 1999.
It will be another slugfest this Sunday when the Eagles head to Carolina to square off against the Panthers. However, the Panthers defense will have a slightly different look to it this time around. The Panthers hired Ron Meeks as their new defensive coordinator in the off-season. Meeks spent the past seven years as the defensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts where he and head coach Tony Dungy implemented the Tampa 2 scheme.
This means that the Panthers will utilize a lot more zone coverage than in years past. If the Panthers have to work out the kinks, the Eagles' West Coast offense might not be the ideal one to face.
"The Eagles do as good a job with it as anybody," Fox said during a conference call with the Philadelphia media. "It's an excellent system. It's been in this league for a long time."
And Fox is well aware that the Eagles will have running back Brian Westbrook ready to go for Sunday's game despite missing the entire preseason after his ankle debridement procedure in early June.
"He definitely is dynamic. They find a lot of unique ways to get him the ball whether it's on screens or checkdowns," Fox said. "You can tell there's a real bond between Donovan (McNabb) and him in the passing game and that's not even to mention how good he is in the running game. We know that he's a great player and that they're going to utilize him."
And Fox doesn't expect Westbrook to be rusty. Fox went through the same thing with one of his own running backs. Backup Jonathan Stewart has been sidelined with an Achilles injury in the preseason, but practiced all week.
"I'm sure Andy's doing the same thing I'm doing. You're trying to get him healthy into the regular season. I think that at the end of the day that's the most important thing," Fox said. "Sometimes just playing the game, you can get oiled up just practicing. I'm sure if (Westbrook's) active for the game he'll be ready to go."
As good as the running game was last season for Carolina, the attention early on will be focused on Jake Delhomme after his six-turnover performance in the loss to the Cardinals in the Division Playoffs last season. But don't count Delhomme out as he led the Panthers to 12 wins last season with five of them coming from behind in the second half. Since Delhomme was signed before the 2003 season, he has won 43 games for the Panthers. Like Reid and McNabb in Philadelphia, Fox's legacy in Carolina is closely tied to what Delhomme does on the field.
"It's probably unique and it is a key position, the quarterback position, but there are a lot of things that go into it - how you play defense, how you are in the kicking game," Fox said. "There are a lot of other elements. In this league, the head coach and the quarterback probably get too much of the credit when you're doing well and they probably too much of the blame when you're doing bad, but that's just the nature of the beast."
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 12:35 p.m., September 11