|Jenkins not backing down after saying Panthers have "no heart"|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 01 October 2007 13:47|
After Sunday's dismal 20-7 loss to Tampa Bay, Jenkins called out his teammates, saying they lacked heart, passion and drive.
Given 24 hours to reflect on comments that sent shockwaves through the organization, Jenkins wasn't backing down Monday.
``I really didn't see anybody else doing it, so I felt like if I don't say anything, I'm just as guilty as everybody else,'' Jenkins said. ``It wasn't me trying to bash anybody or drag the team down or anything, I just want what's best for my team.''
The Panthers (2-2) stumbled into team meetings in disarray Monday, a day after their meltdown on the field, the sidelines and locker room.
Defensive end Julius Peppers looked sluggish and remained without a sack, the secondary continued to play soft coverage and the Buccaneers rushed for 189 yards.
David Carr, filling in for Jake Delhomme, completed less than half his passes, was sacked three times, and couldn't get Steve Smith the ball. Held to five catches for 32 yards, Smith was seen yelling into the phone to the offensive coaches in the press box in the second half.
After the Panthers scored a meaningless touchdown in their nearly empty home stadium in the final minute to avoid a shutout, Jenkins took aim at his underperforming teammates.
``I'm going be honest with you, it was what it was, garbage,'' Jenkins said, ``As a team collectively we have no heart, we have no energy. We have no drive.''
Jenkins, who had four tackles, said Monday he went to the media with his thoughts instead of the team to make sure the message got across.
``I figured why not tell you all and put it in the paper and that way it has to be addressed,'' Jenkins said. ``I'm not really big fans of you all but when you get writing stuff it does put pressure on us.''
It was clear Monday the accusations hit home.
As fullback Brad Hoover readied to leave the locker room, Smith, with reporters standing nearby, said goodbye.
``If you don't want to bother coming in with heart on Wednesday, don't bother coming in at all,'' Smith said, sarcastically.
Smith then refused to speak to reporters, as did Peppers, a three-time Pro Bowl pick receiving the most criticism of his career for his subpar play.
Delhomme, out with a strained right elbow, felt Jenkins' comments were out of line.
``I kind of see a lot of guys who kind of play hurt, play injured and play their behind off,'' Delhomme said. ``I've seen (Smith) play a little bit. I think he tries now and then.
``I disagree with that, absolutely. But that's me.''
Fox, who has rarely called out players, tried to brush off Jenkins' comments as the result of frustration.
``I don't know that it was a lack of effort as much as it was a lack of execution,'' Fox said of his team.
Something is wrong.
In the past three weeks the Panthers have played poorly in two home losses, and were sluggish in a win over Atlanta. With the 20th rated offense and the 23rd ranked defense, they look nothing like the team many thought would return to the playoffs after a one-year absence.
``If it was something that I felt that we were mediocre at best, that was the talent we had, and we just couldn't get it done, I would keep my mouth shut,'' Jenkins said.
Jenkins' comments came after a tumultuous offseason that saw the three-time Pro Bowl pick placed on the trading block, and after he was the only starter to skip June's voluntary workouts.
``I know I'm not the perfect person,'' Jenkins said. ``I know I haven't done everything by the book and some people look at me as being a rebel or whatever. But when it's all said and done, the things I am asked of this organization to do that are mandatory, which require me to be here, I come and I give them 100 percent.
``Just like I'm pretty sure they demand 100 percent of me, I have to demand 100 percent of myself and my teammates.''
Jenkins knows he created a stir. He knows he'll face scrutiny.
Still, he feels he made the right move and hopes it jump starts his team.
``If I owe anybody any apologies, those will come out,'' Jenkins said. ``But I felt like what needed to be said needed to be said.''