CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is unhappy with his team's offensive play, most specifically at quarterback.
He believes general manager Marty Hurney can solve those problems even if he's focusing on hiring a defensive-minded head coach.
Richardson told The Associated Press on Friday night he still believes Hurney is the right man to run the Panthers' football operations after consecutive seasons out of the playoffs culminating with an NFL-worst 2-14 record this season.
Hurney, a former sports writer who moved up the ranks with Carolina after once handling salary-cap issues and contract negotiations, has faced criticism as Richardson decided to only let coach John Fox go after this season.
"We have the worst record, but we don't have the worst players," Richardson said, defending Hurney. "That's my opinion and the opinion of a number of other people that I have a high regard for."
Hurney and team president Danny Morrison are in the process of interviewing four known candidates to replace John Fox. They're all defensive coordinators: Perry Fewell of the New York Giants, Ron Rivera of the San Diego Chargers, Greg Manusky of the San Francisco 49ers and Rob Ryan of the Cleveland Browns.
"We're putting a very high priority on the offense, and that can be accomplished without having an offensive head coach," Richardson said by phone. "We're also putting a very high priority on trying to get the absolute best person, whether it's a coordinator or individual, to coach the quarterbacks."
Clausen, a rookie, went 1-9 as a starter, failed to have a 200-yard passing game or throw for a touchdown to a wide receiver. His 58.4 passer rating was the worst in the league.
"It appears that the play of our quarterbacks has deteriorated over the last few years," Richardson said.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press