Does anyone else find it slightly incredulous that Panthers coach John Fox calls Jake Delhomme day-to-day following a fracture of his middle finger on his throwing hand? That easily sounds like a three or even four week healing process. I'm pretty sure it took Tony Romo three to four weeks to recover from a similar injury last season. Four weeks until being able to throw without pain sounds reasonable and besides, why would you want to rush back a QB with 18 INT's in 11 games? Wouldn't you want to make sure Delhomme's finger is a 100% before risking another loss at this point?
So if we assume Delhomme is out four weeks then why not just sit him the final two? If in these next two games Matt Moore leads the Panthers back to .500 at 7-7 they are suddenly back in the wildcard hunt. Removing Moore from the line up after resurrecting the season against teams like the Patriots and Vikings would certainly put Fox in the hot seat if Delhomme tanked...again.
If the Panthers instead lose the next two games the season is dead and so again I ask why start Delhomme. Let him go ahead and start his planning for next season. With his contract the Panthers will at the very least have him back in camp and competing.
If the Panthers do lose and Matt Moore fails to impress then why not give AJ Feeley a shot? I'll stop there and not suggest we elevate Hunter Cantwell as tempting as that sounds. Fans pay good money to see these games and they should see the best the Panthers have on the roster. The Panthers know ultimately that need to keep a competitive team on the field to keep the wine and cheese crowd happy. Besides, even if Moore tanks you can hardly fault Fox for sticking with the kid, he obviously doesn't better options.
If the Panther are eliminated from playoff contention then I say it's time to figure out if our future starting QB is already on the roster. I would really applaud John Fox if just went ahead and told Moore he going to start at least two more games. See how the kid responds to the pressure. I will agree that Moore wasn't overly impressive in his start against the Bucs. Mediocre stats but I thought he made some good decisions under pressure, made some crisp throws and good rid of the ball quickly. Again, not an overly impressive performance but a solid (and winning helps). Honestly if there is one characteristic that has impressed me the most it was his poise. Moore doesn't appear to get rattled in the pocket, sheds hits, and appears focused on the at all times. That said, here's three things I would like to see Moore improve on in his next start.
- Let's start with his pocket awareness. The Patriots will certainly bring pressure to rattle the youngster and the Panthers offense line hasn't exactly been a fortress. I'm looking to see if he can sense the pressure and move around in the pocket a little to buy him that extra second he needs.
- Let's see if he takes more shots down field. The Patriots Achilles heel on offense is its secondary. WR Steve Smith will certainly want to build a rapport with Moore and there is no better way to do that then connect for a couple big plays. Remember Smith's miraculous catch in the freezing cold last season in Green Bay? Smith would love nothing more than to do that in Foxboro under similar conditions.
- Finally let's see if the kid uses his wheels this week. It seems there is always at least one point in every game when a QB is better served to run for the that 3rd down conversation if they could only see it. Moore has run the ball very little in his short career but that needs to change. If I'm going to invest in a young QB then I need a guy who can also pull the ball down and run three yards for that first down if the opportunity is there. We have all seen the danger of having a statue for a QB in the pocket. The pass rushers start running to a spot and it's only a matter of time before that ball gets knocked out.
Now that the Panther defense is playing better this team can keep itself in games to the end if it will only protect the ball on offense. Putting any QB coming off an injury to his throwing hand back into the starting line-up prematurely is a recipe for disaster, much less one having a season such as Delhomme's. Sticking with Moore for the remainder of the season only makes sense no matter the win-loss record. Only then will the Panthers be able to properly formulate an offseason plan for the QB position, something many fans on this site wished had happened last offseason...
I can't end on such a stale note. There STILL remains that last glimmer of hope that these Panthers with their young, fearless leader somehow infiltrates the Patriots, conquers the Vikings, squashes the Giants and excommunicates the Saints. If that miraculous scenario should happen then how excited would we be? Just think about that for a moment......I can't even go there. Positive vibe gone...