Matt Moore. It is a name that we may become all too familiar with in this new decade. Matt Moore is not just a person, he is the representative of a trend in Carolina. For whatever reason, the backup QB has always been the most popular position with the Panthers the last few years. It's been a position filled with many failures, with fans betraying their favorite backup QB just as quickly as they had lifted him to his throne. Chris Weinke, David Carr, Josh McCown, one after another our backups have failed to produce in a horrifying fashion when Jake Delhomme has gone down. Multiple interceptions, several sacks, sometimes even a complete inability to complete the most basic pass. No one ever rose to the challenge of being 'the guy.'
Then in comes Matt Moore. The latest crown prince of the Panthers franchise. He's compiled a 6-2 record as a starter and he's been the only backup QB since Jake Delhomme that has had consistent success after the starter has gone down from injury. As Jake Delhomme replaced Rodney Peete in the beginning of the John Fox era, will Matt Moore now replace Jake Delhomme? It's quite obvious to see the improvement in the offense once Matt Moore has been inserted. Jake Delhomme threw for 8 touchdown and 18 interceptions over the course of 11 games; Matt Moore threw for 8 touchdowns and 2 interceptions over the last 5. Many football sites have ranked Matt Moore the best FA QB coming into the 2010 offseason.
Today, we're going to go through Matt Moore's history with the Carolina Panthers through his games in 2007, when Matt Moore took his turn on the Quarterback Carousel that led the Panthers to an 7-9 season.
Game 15: Carolina Panthers vs Seattle Seahawks
The Carolina Panthers went up against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 15 in one of the most boring games I have ever seen until late in the game. The 1st quarter consisted almost entirely of 3 and outs for both teams, and the 1st touchdown wasn't scored until 1:17 left in the 4th Quarter. Statistically, Matt Moore did pretty well. 19 out of 27 for 208 yards and a 92.8 passer rating. He acted mostly like your traditional pocket passer, in stark contrast of the Matt Moore we know in 2009. The offensive line kept him off the ground and he did a good job spreading the ball around to all receivers. We had 7 players with at least one completion in the books. However, Matt Moore never hit the deep bomb or led a good TD scoring drive. When the Panthers won the game 13-10, it was a humble start to his young career.
Game 16: Carolina Panthers vs Dallas Cowboys
Matt had his first touchdown strike of the year this game, a 11 yard strike to Steve Smith in the middle of the second quarter. Here's what I got out of this game: It seemed like Matt Moore wasn't playing to his strengths. Just like the Seahawks game, he was trying to stay in the pocket and throw under pressure. But the offensive line wasn't protecting him as well, and that's not his game to begin with. He's a guy that needs to take off out of the pocket and throw on the run when he's under pressure, someone that will create a play whether than wait for it to come to him. He wasn't seeming to use that part of his game for whatever reason, and that led to 5 sacks and an interception later on in the game.
Panthers lost that game, 13-20. The Panthers had 3:10 left on the clock in the 4th Quarter on defense to try to get the ball back, but the Cowboys were able to run out the clock and win the game.
Game 17: The Carolina Panthers vs Tampa Bay Bucs
Matt Moore had a pretty good game, two touchdowns and one interception. It wasn't a breakout game, but it was a sign of things to come. Matt Moore led 72 and 68 yard scoring drives that featured a balanced game with a equal amount of run and pass in the 1st quarter. He flashed his brilliance, and if he had just done an average job the rest of the game, he might have been viewed as the heir-apparent after Jake Delhomme retires.
However, he choked and made a few boneheaded plays later in the game. Late in the 3rd quarter at the Carolina 35 he was pressured in the pocket and ended up dropping back 24 yards before being taken down at the 11 yard line. It made him look fairly silly, and showed his youth for the NFL game. He also threw an interception at the beginning of a drive deep in Panthers territory, giving the Bucs 3 points on a silver platter. While the Panthers won that game 31-23, it wasn't a dominant performance that would have the Panthers brass looking to him for the future. Matt Moore would have to wait till 2009 to truly get his shot at the starting job.
The game ended with Vinny Testaverde lining up for the V formation and taking the final snap for the win, a classy move by John Fox to let him give a suitable cap to a successful career.
Here lies the following Summery
Now there's only a small amount of time to judge him based on these performances, but I'll tell you all what I got out of those three games. What you have here is a QB who is trying to find his place in the NFL. He seemed to force himself to try to play like a traditional pocket passer. He wanted to scramble, but when pressure started getting to him he would stay in that pocket that extra second longer that prevented him from escaping the pocket when he needed to. He seemed like he would get rattled, especially during the Dallas game when they sent blitzes in each and every direction towards him. But the important thing is that he flashed his brilliance on the field. He could hit receivers on the run, allowing them to make that extra move and turn a small 1st down catch into a big gain. He had a deep ball. He showed enough for the Panthers to keep him on as a developmental QB, and we kept him in order to see what kind of guy he could develop into on the long term.
In my next article, we'll go over the games that Matt played in 2009 and witness the transformation of a pocket passer QB into a scrambler QB. See you then.