John Fox staying conservative until end

Some very interesting news out of Carolina this afternoon. Coach John Fox announced Brian St. Pierre will be the starting quarterback for Sunday’s game with Baltimore.

Say whatever you want about it because the alternative was rookie Tony Pike, a 2010 sixth-round draft pick. But I’m going to say this is a terrible move by Fox and it might even be a final act of defiance for a lame-duck coach.

St. Pierre’s a guy who has bounced around the NFL for eight seasons. He’s thrown a total of five passes in regular-season games. He’s about to turn 31. St. Pierre has had so little real NFL experience that he was still eligible for the practice squad when the Panthers signed him a couple of weeks ago.

Look, if anybody in the NFL thought St. Pierre had a legitimate shot to be a starting quarterback, he would have had his shot long ago. He’s nothing more than a guy and this is further evidence of why Fox is on his way out in Carolina.

Although he’s done some great things for the Panthers, the one thing Fox never has been willing to do is change. He’s as conservative as they come. Yes, St. Pierre may have been around longer than Pike. But you don’t make a move like this when you’re in a full-blown youth movement.

Back in 2007 when Jake Delhomme got hurt and it was becoming obvious David Carr couldn’t play, Fox coaxed 79-year-old Vinny Testaverde out of retirement. That made sense. The Panthers had a pretty good team otherwise and they were able to scrape out a respectable season around a dinosaur.

But St. Pierre is no Testaverde and this isn’t 2007. Fox has refused to embrace the youth movement the Panthers decided to go with.

I’m not saying Pike is great by any means and he probably wouldn’t solve all of Carolina’s problems. But, much like Jimmy Clausen, who was benched once and is out this week with a concussion, Pike was a draft pick this year.

Part of the plan by ownership and the front office was to see what they’ve got in their young guys. Now that the Panthers are so far out of the playoff picture, that should be the plan more than ever.

Maybe Pike steps in and turns out to be the next Tom Brady. It’s not likely, but it’s at least possible. We already know for sure that St. Pierre is not the next Brady. Why not at least give Pike a look?

Fox is a good coach in a lot of ways. He’ll end up being a coach somewhere else and he’ll probably have success.

But Fox isn’t doing any favors for a front office and an owner who started this youth movement. He’s being stubborn and conservative until the end and that’s not how you handle a youth movement.

Just look at Tampa Bay’s Raheem Morris. He embraced the youth movement, threw his young guys out there and tried to figure out who could play. That led to some very rough times last year. Now, the Buccaneers are winning and seeing the upside of the youth movement.

The Panthers won’t see any upside from their youth movement until the next coach is in place.