The Carolina Panthers have struggled on offense this year due to several factors including the offensive line, receivers, special teams, and yes, the quarterback. Most panther fans have sat and watched every Sunday and witnessed the same offensive struggles as other fans, the local media, the national media, and yes, opposing teams and coaches. This season we have witnessed our share of injuries; however, all teams have injuries in the NFL. The good teams can overcome and persevere. Many of these teams persevere by looking to their second and third string guys to come in and pick up the slack. Look around it happens on other NFL teams on any given Sunday, which leads me back to the quarterback position. Why another quarterback? There are many reasons for starting another quarterback as there is for sticking to the veteran, but let us focus on a change. Here are just a few reasons for a change.
Jake Delhomme needs a break and has needed one for a while. Whether it is mental or physical he needs time away and this broken finger may give him that break. Jake was a good quarterback and has done much for this team, but right now he is detrimental to the entire organization. Who is to say that he cannot come back and play at a serviceable level once again, he very well may. It is not fair to Jake to keep throwing him out there with the way he is playing at this time.
The offense needs a spark. Another quarterback could potentially provide life for an anemic offense and put some points on the board. Of course he will need help from the rest of the offense, but this has always been the case. Moore should be behind center since he has been with the team for three years and is the youngest and most athletic quarterback on the roster. Fullback Brad Hoover said he thinks Moore is ready to take the helm. "He's (been) given an opportunity waiting in the wings, and now it's up to him to take advantage of that" (charlotteobserver.com, 2009).
The quarterback talent needs to be evaluated. The coaching staff must look at the quarterback talent on the current roster and evaluate them for next season. The best way to evaluate someone is through live situations. According to Fox when discussing Moore, "We haven't got a chance to see him in a whole lot of live play lately, but I think he's capable of making all of the throws and he has the height, weight and arm strength you're looking for. The quarterback position is about decision-making and until you get in there in live situations you really never know. He hasn't had that opportunity a lot. I think he prepares hard and I think he'll definitely give his best effort (carolinagrowl.com)." The 1-10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming to BOA stadium, which would provide a perfect warm up game for Moore with the up and coming brutal schedule. If Moore or Feely are not the answer the team can look to free agency or the draft. This must be addressed moving forward.
The rest of the team deserves a change. There are players on that team that still put a lot of effort in on Sunday and the defense particularly has been playing their butts off and need some help on the other side of the ball. It takes at least two out of three phases of the game between the offense, defense, and special teams to be competitive. Right now only the defense seems to be holding its own. The sloppy play and the penalties may be attributed to the team’s loss of confidence in the ability to win and possibly the coaching staff. Winning can change a lot of that.
The fan base deserves a change. As fans we sit and watch every Sunday whether from home or at the stadium. Fans want their team to win and want to believe that their coaches and team wants to win. Most of us are not good evaluators of football talent like the coaching staff; however, we are not stupid either. Fans are no longer buying into the statement that “Jake provides the team the best chance to win”. Really, he has done alright in a few games this year with a watered down offensive scheme and a strong running game, but Jake has had more bad games than good in 2009. If Jake is marched out there again at BOA stadium this coming Sunday against Tampa; he will be pummeled with boos. He deserves better and so do the fans.
John Fox must show that he can make a change. Fox has been steadfast in standing behind his quarterback like any good coach should be. However, a good coach should know when it is time to make a change. Fox has the perfect outlet this weekend now that Jake has an injured hand. Many may question this injury as a way for the organization to save face, but if an injury is what it takes then so be it. Poor quarterback play should have been reason enough to bench Jake, but now there are no excuses for not making a change at quarterback. If John Fox does not make the change this weekend, then we may very well see the end of his career as the Panthers head coach and deservedly so.