With Panthers QB Jake Delhomme seeing minimal action in the first preseason game and looking less than sharp against the Eagles, Panthers fans including myself were waiting steadfast for a glimmer of the ‘old Jake’. So what exactly do I mean by the ‘old Jake’.
Old Jake: The Jake Delhomme that took the Panthers to the Super Bowl, the Jake that can go from a country boy grin to a heat-of-the-battle scowl in the time it takes a receiver to screw up a route. Jake can be over-animated sometimes and tends to point his finger when things go bad. We Panther fans love his passion and down-home demeanor and his teammates love playing with him.
I was hoping to see confirmation that Jake could again run the Panther offense and he did just that against the Redskins. Sure, he wasn’t perfect; Jake has been prone to throwing a dumb pass from time to time as we saw as well. But he made his reads and hit the majority of his throws after struggling as first the 1st quarter.
The play I think most exemplifies this point is the TD to TE Dante Rosario. The play started with Jake under center but he recognized the defensive play as the same one he hit Rosario with earlier in the game. So he audibled back into the shotgun and hit Rosario who matched up one-on-one with the same safety he had beat earlier. The rust is gone. If you’re still worried about his elbow just rewind the deep pass to Steve Smith in the first offensive series. It takes a big throw to overthrow Smitty, ‘nuff said.
The biggest quality Jake brings to the team is confidence. Jake knows what needs to be done, how to execute the plays and how to read defenses. He also provides the leadership the rest of the team needs to perform their assignments with confidence. Yes, the Jake we’ve grown to love as our leader is definitely back and these Panthers just gained a huge boost of confidence with the latest victory. So hopefully we can stop talking about whether Jake is back to his old self and instead talk about how he is one of the most under-rated QB’s in the league. Of course the talk of being under-rated won’t happen unless Jake leads these Panthers to the playoffs. True Panther fans know that even a #6 seed is all Jake needs considering he has guided two improbable playoff runs already. The third time is the charm!