It's become very clear that there is no other topic that will get Panther fans pitted against one another this offseason than when discussing QB Jake Delhomme. There is one thing we can all agree on: Jake had a terrible game in the season ending loss to the Arizona Cardinals this past January. Where the discussion gets tenuous is when discussing what impact that performance should have on Delhomme's starting position in 2009. In this post I've tried to capture the differing opinions from several regular CSR readers, both the "Keep Jake" and the "Dump Jake" perspective. Some of these I've simply clipped from the comments in a couple different posts that are relevant to the topic. I've tried my best to keep it in context but if I've erred please feel free to clarify. At the end please weigh in on my fan poll based on either the arguments presented or just your own opinion if you like.
"Keep Jake" Argument:
By Micheal Procton
1. His career winning percentage in starts (regular season and playoffs) is .618, behind only six of the other 23 starting QBs in the league with at least two years as a starter. And that mark is a lot closer to guys like McNabb (.636) and Manning (.649) than most would think (or the haters would like to admit. Some of the guys behind him are "studs" Carson Palmer, Jay Cutler, and Kurt Warner as well as 1st-round picks Byron Leftwich, Eli Manning, and Jason Campbell. As far as I'm concerned, a QB is to be measured by wins more than stats, particularly given the next quality I'll speak about.
2. Delhomme has 19 come-from-behind 4th-quarter victories in his career. Out of 55 total wins, that's a real impressive number. The other thing, too, is that it doesn't matter how he or the team have played over the course of the game. If we have the ball and a chance to win, Jake is going to look his teammates in the eye and tell them they're going to drive down the field and get the points we need. And they believe him, just as they have since his first Panthers game in '03 against the Jags.
3. While I mentioned I don't really think stats are the be all and end all, he's certainly produced some impressive numbers. He was the QB for both Steve Smith when he won the receiving Triple Crown in '05/led the league in YPG in '08, as well as for Muhsin Muhammad's '04 season when he led the league in yardage and TDs. He also ranks 22nd ALL-TIME in QB rating, an important measure of efficiency. Other impressive all-time ranks include being in the top 100 for both TDs and yardage in just 86 career regular-season starts.
4. Jake plays every game like it's his last, and always leaves EVERYTHING HE'S GOT on the field. Compare that to a malcontent like Peppers or a whiner like Cutler--either of whom is probably WAY more physically gifted than Jake--and it's easy to see why his teammates and coaches stand by him at every opportunity.
5. Finally...who would we replace him with? Along with bringing down his cap number for this year by over 20%, the five new years on the deal average a cap hit of $6.454 million, and 47% of that "new money" is guaranteed.
There were really only two close to comparable QBs on the free agent market:
Kurt Warner (older, lower career winning%)-$11.5 million/year, 65% of money guaranteed. Kerry Collins (older, less successful)-$7.5 million/year, 57% of money guaranteed.
5 reasons to keep Jake no specific order
1. Knows the system
2. Lots of heart
3. Can get the ball to Smith
4. Good game manager
Now the "Dump Jake" Argument:
5 reasons to dump Jake no specific order
1. Getting older
2. Poor pocket presence
3. Forces the ball to Smith
4. Doesn't use his peripherals
5. Coming off major surgery
By theBomb.com :
....Second, the Bears gave more than I felt comfortable for Cutler. I would have given a 2nd + Peppers, but that ship has sailed. The same goes for Cassell, but just Peppers straight up. I realize he hasn't signed a long term deal yet. Trades are funny in the NFL, as I never would have guessed Cassell would go for a 2nd nor would I have believed anyone would give up two 1sts for Cutler. I believe injecting youth into the position would have been in the best interest of the franchise.
Also, not trying to use a crystal ball too much, but without a 1st rounder next year, we probably lost our shot at a decent year for QB talent. Obviously, someone could fall, there are diamonds in the rough, blah, blah, blah.
Third, the details of his contract were as follows:
Signed a five-year, $42.5 million contract extension through 2014. The deal includes $20 million guaranteed. 2009: $3.2 million, 2010: $1.624 million, 2011: $1.74 million, 2012: $2.7 million, 2013: $3.66 million, 2014: $4.62 million, 2015: Free Agent. Cap charges: $8.591 million (2009), $4.785 million (2010), $5.745 million (2011), $6.705 million (2012), $7.665 million (2013), $8 million (2014).
This means that comparing his current salary against other veterans is problematic, since contracts are usually back-loaded and he is now starting a new deal while they are finishing out theirs.
Fourth, I fail to see how coming off an injury should among the reasons to keep a player. If that was the reason for his problems, then I feel that hurts the argument that we should have re-signed him. I'm not, however, arguing that the injury was the reason for the Arizona game, or any other game for that matter.
Your reason number 3 against Jake (Forces the ball to Smith) underlies a larger deficiency in Jake's game. He is pretty awful in going through his progressions when passing. He locks onto a receiver for far too long and is far too obvious about it. If a person sitting at home can tell immediately who Jake is going to throw it to, then the defense probably can too. Usually Jake will key on the featured receiver in the play...wait...wait some more...and then will always check down to the RB if it isn't there. It's rare that he will look for his TE and even rarer still that he will look for his #2 and #3 receivers.
Just watch the number of times Peyton's head will shift during a passing play and you will see an amazing QB go through his progressions.
I love Jake but ... I honestly don't think we will ever win a Super Bowl with him. We can win with him, we can probably even get to the playoffs with him but I think the Super Bowl ship has sailed for Jake. He came close when we had one of the best running games in the league in ‘03 and we had an even better running game in '08 that was single-handedly cut short by our QB. Smith is not getting any younger and logic would have it that unles our defense magically turns into something on par with the Steelers D, Jake won't be able to win the big one.
Ask any team in the league how much regular season winning records count for once playoff time comes around. They count for nothing. They got you there, but now you're on your own to emerge as the greatest team in the nation. If your QB is easily flustered and inconsistent then you are setting yourself up for a heartbreaking playoff loss the moment that first INT happens.
It is true. Carolina needs a game manager at QB. They don't need an offensive centerpiece. They have that in the dynamic trio of Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams, and Steve Smith. With weapons like that, all you need is a guy who can reliably set up the playaction and make accurate throws. Something that when Jake Delhomme is flustered, he cannot do, and has proven he cannot do time and time again.
I want someone under center who can calmly lead the Panthers to the promised land, instead of escorting them out of it by turning over the ball like burgers on the grill.
So there is the argument from both sides. I'm looking forward to more debate and the results of the poll.