Panther Paw Prints: Blame Jake Edition

We have a full bag of Paw Prints this morning as everyone has plenty to say about Panthers QB Jake Delhomme, including the beleaguered QB himself. Let's start with some post-game quotes from Jake:

Darin Gantt's Panthers Blog | The Herald - Rock Hill, SC
"I mean, in my heart, yeah," Delhomme replied when asked if he felt he deserved to keep his job. "But let’s be honest. I don’t think I’m a dummy. When you’re not playing well offensively, you always have to look at the quarterback. I don’t think there’s any doubt. "I’m certainly not looking to give it up by any means, by any stretch of the imagination. But let’s be real here. Two big turnovers today really affected us."

Then on Monday he expressed a renewed confidence, the typical gunslinger mentality.

Darin Gantt's Panthers Blog | The Herald - Rock Hill, SC
"I think my confidence is high, it’s just easy to say it. you’ve got to get it done," he said. "Out of how many times we threw it yesterday, for the most part they were where they needed to be. You know, those few, they didn’t and they were crucial. "I’m not trying to play the victim here at all. i think that’s a cop-out. I’m the one pulling the trigger."

Panthers HC John Fox wasn't so confident. Even the usually loyal-to-a-fault Fox has to acknowledge the obvious.

Darin Gantt's Panthers Blog | The Herald - Rock Hill, SC
"We’ll do whatever it takes to develop some confidence in that phase of the game," Fox said, adding: "We need to do what helps us win. If that’s Jake he understands and if that’s not Jake he understands."

Usually when I guy has no one else to turn to for a friendly gesture, a man turns to his dog. Jake Delhomme instead turns to his left tackle:

Dismal day for Jake leads to Panthers loss | The Herald - Rock Hill, SC
"I went up to him at the end there," left tackle Jordan Gross said. "I said ‘He's our guy.' He's won too many games here. We've been down the road of the quarterback shuffle a few years ago, and that didn't work out too well. There's a lot of time to evaluate quarterbacks, from the spring all the way through camp. It's not like there's some magic hidden gem. I've got faith in our backups, but that seems like a break-glass, pull-handle type of thing to do that. "It's not my call. But Jake's my guy. I have faith in him."

Gross isn't helping his chances of landing a coaching slot after retirement. Yet in spite of his epic failure Delhomme still might start again this week and here's a reasonable justification for doing so:

Darin Gantt's Panthers Blog | The Herald - Rock Hill, SC

For everything Delhomme's done for this franchise, perhaps the only right thing to do is give him another chance to save his career at Arizona, against the team that started this horrible slide. The fact that it's on the road gives it the smallest degree of hope, but that light's flickering fast. The season's shot, and there's nothing Matt Moore or A.J. Feeley's going to do to fix it. That said, their best play might be to to let Delhomme stay, at least for the next few weeks.Throwing Moore in against a good Arizona team (or Lord knows New Orleans) might not be the best launching pad. Sacrificial lamb's hardly a fitting end for Delhomme's run here, but he deserves something for the what he's done.

Umm...who would be the 'sacrificial lamb', Moore or Delhomme? Both? I'm not thinking that. There is still plenty to optimistic about (right James?).  How about the defense?

The Elevator: Turnovers Doom Panthers In Loss to Bills | Bleacher Report
The 1.77 yards per rushing attempt is the third lowest game total in franchise history, and the lowest since 2006. Delhomme interceptions set up the only two Bills' touchdown drives, which were seven and 27 yards in length. Altogether, the Bills had 17 of their 20 points off turnovers, a figure that is startling to say the least. There isn't much a defense can be held accountable for when 85% of the opponents' points come from mistakes made on the other side of the ball.

He's preaching to the choir but the defense is taking little solace from the stats:

Defense not happy despite solid performance | The Herald - Rock Hill, SC
"This one hurts. It's a tough pill for me to swallow. If you look at the numbers and not look at the score, you say that we probably blew them out. But, numbers don't win games, points do. It's one of those weeks."

I wish I could keep going with the positive stuff but these Paw Prints continue to trample in unfriendly territory. Let's talk about how our power running game did against the #32 rushing defense:

Grading the Panthers: Offense, special teams need a tutor
RUN OFFENSE: D Sure, the Panthers ran for 116 yards and averaged 4.6 yards per carry, but that's called underachieving against the league’s 32nd-ranked run defense. The Bills came in allowing 181.6 yards per game on the ground and allowed the Jets to run for 318 yards last week. DeAngelo Williams had 89 yards and one touchdown. And how do the Panthers not pick up two fourth-and-1 opportunities against that defense? Clearly, the Panthers missed fullback Brad Hoover in those situations.

Fro all those fans saying "Just run the ball" please understand that we don;t have a triple option offense, we have to be able to throw the ball at least a little. Here's some more ugly news that has SERIOUS ramifications for our next game:

Darin Gantt's Panthers Blog | The Herald - Rock Hill, SC
Lost in the chaos of yesterday's stunning loss were a few late injuries. TE Dante Rosario and FS Charles Godfrey weren't able to finish. We may hear more today, though John Fox will try to do the old "we'll know more on Wednesday," routine. Rosario walked off the field, while Godfrey was getting some help, not putting much weight on his injured ankle.

I'm not too worried about losing Godfrey but we need Rosario in this offense. Anyone else wonder if he could be another Marques Colston TE that actually plays like a WR? Rosario displayed another sweet one-handed catch against the Bills. The guy had fantastic hands.

I have to give a shout out to WR Steve Smith and wish him comfort with the loss of an early mentor. Having lost my real father when I was but 32 I can understand the loss he feels. It's not something that goes away quickly if ever at all.

A tough end to Smith's rough week -
"I had a rough week," Smith said as tears welled in his eyes. "I lost a father figure in my life. I think the rest of the year is going to be really difficult. He's a guy who invested a lot of quality love into this game."

Not that Smitty ever needs added inspiration to play at a high level but something tells me he will use this to his advantage. Here's another guy I feel bad for since he has done everything right up until this point.

Moore won't run or hide after punt blunder - News - Opinions - Belleville News-Democrat
"I've got to deal with everything," Moore said. "I've got to take it in and listen to what everybody's got to say. Because I want to listen when everybody says I'm doing good. So when I'm doing bad, I've got to take my own poison."

Seriously though, given all the muffed punts in the preseason we had to know this was going to bite us eventually. 

Last but not least is the one Paw Print that torques me up the most. Why is it every time the opposing defense makes a big play they say "We've been practicing that one all week"?

Bills bend, but don't break in gutsy victory : Home: The Buffalo News
"The second one he ran a dig route," Byrd said. "I saw it coming. We've been practicing it all week, and I just stayed back on it and made sure there weren't any double moves. It hit his hand, bounced off and I caught it."

I just love our cutting edge offensive game plan. I bet you could scout our offense from Craig's List we are so damn obvious about what we are going to do.

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