Matt Bowen, a former NFL player, has been writing a series of articles for the National Football Post (NFP) regarding the #1 issue each team faces heading into training camp and the upcoming season. He has finally gotten around to the NFC South, and shows enormous respect for our division as a whole. What was his #1 issue for the Panthers? What Else?
Carolina Panthers: Delhomme’s consistency
The Panthers put an end to questions about QB Jake Delhomme(notes) when they signed him to a contract extension after the season – while some thought they would start preparing for the future with a young arm at the position. Ultimately though, people need to understand Delhomme has a role in Carolina. Even more, that role must be played correctly in ’09.
I don’t believe we can judge Delhomme’s 2008 season based off one playoff performance (17-of-34 passing, 205 yards, 1 TD, 5 INTs) because he helped get the Panthers into the postseason and secure a first-round bye. But if this team wants to repeat as NFC South champs, he has to be more consistent and he has to continue to play his role. That means handing the ball off to running backs DeAngelo Williams(notes) and Jonathan Stewart(notes) and getting the ball down the field to wide receiver Steve Smith. It’s easy to look at Delhomme’s numbers and call him average (3,288 yards, 15 TDs, 12 INTs), but all you have to do when talking about this team is look at Smith’s impact (78 receptions, 1, 421 yards, 6 TDs) to see Delhomme’s value. He’s never going to put up numbers like a Brees or a Manning because that’s not they way this team plays football on offense. It’s a run-first team that uses Smith in the vertical passing game in game-changing plays.
Delhomme is still the leader of this offense, but he has to cut down on the mistakes and he has to avoid games when he comes apart at the seams. He knows his role, the team knows his role, and this is why he heads into camp with a new contract.
Now, everyone, forgive me for starting another Jake Delhomme conversation, because without fail the comments section will blow up into the usual Jake vs. The Hate debate. But I, for one, am known as a Jake hater on this blog, and I think this is the most fair assesment of Delhomme I have ever read. It isn't hammering him unjustly for his occasional inconsistency, but it is putting it into perspective what needs to happen for Carolina to make a Superbowl run. This is why I like to read articles and hear commentary from ex-players instead of self-proclaimed "experts" that have never played at the NFL level. (granted not all ex-players make the best commentary, but i feel they have a higher percentage and a better ability to translate what they are seeing to field situations) Many would argue that this isn't the single issue that will affect our season most, that honor probably belongs to the improvement of the Defense, but the team does tend to rise and fall on the arm of Jake.
Actually, the way the article reads, it is almost as if the author has been reading page after page of our comments section here on Cat Scratch Reader doesn't it?