Once there was a man in Carolina who salvaged a season thought completely lost. A man who with the brief time he was here, restored faith in our team and hope for the future. He was a man who was constantly held back in the depth chart due to the incompetence of John Fox and injuries beyond his control. A man we knew that if given the chance to play games and develop, he could become a starting quarterback in the NFL.
I'm talking about the most heartbreaking release of 2011, Matt Moore. I always believe that he received a bad rap with our team. Of all the players ever hurt by our propensity to play old veterans instead of talented ones during the John Fox era, Matt Moore is the most important. Now that he has gone to Miami, we are beginning to see the kind of talent he's capable of in producing stat gaudy wins against Kansas City, Washington, and Buffalo. Six touchdowns and 1 interception in the last three games with over a 70% completion rating. Absolutely astounding.
As a Panthers fan, I can't help but wonder what would have happened if Matt Moore had been given a better shot. When Matt Moore went 4-1 in the latter end of the 2009 season, he should have been our trusted starter. There should have been no question about it and Jimmy Clausen shouldn't have been drafted when he fell to us in 2010. Matt Moore had been with the team for four years. He was a veteran. He had paid his time on the depth chart and now it was time to receive his due. Instead, John Fox ripped him out of the starting lineup after two games and then threw resident pretty-boy Jimmy Clausen into the fire. The results could be seen from a mile away: Disaster.
So the Panthers go 2-14 for the rest of the season. Instead of letting Matt Moore develop in a starting situation, the Panthers decided to move on from him too quickly and it helped contribute to our terrible season. It's most important that we as fans learn from the mistakes that John Fox made during his reign and not rush to a conclusion with Cam Newton. We need to give him time to develop under center. Sure, his career hasn't started out the way we wished in terms of wins and losses. He hasn't delivered in the clutch when we were looking for one last score to win the game. However, he has genuine talent and we've got to give him time to develop it, an offensive line to protect him, and talented receivers that can't only catch his balls but also make plays after the catch.
I know quietly in the back of all our minds the questions have been brewing. How good will Cam Newton really be? How many seasons should we wait until we try to give Cam some competition if he disappoints? How long should we wait before we talk about replacing Ron Rivera? Does this coaching staff really have what it takes to build a Super-Bowl caliber team? Can they repair our defense?
The sad fact of the matter is that the question doesn't matter. We've taken Cam Newton as our QB and Ron Rivera as our Head Coach we owe it to them to give em 3-4 years to take command of this team and make it their own. The NFL is a passing league and Newt is going to have to show consistent improvement in that area if he's going to be a success. As it stands today, he has thrown 12 touchdowns as opposed to 14 interceptions through 11 games. While his 9 rushing touchdowns have helped make up the difference, we would be kidding ourselves if we think they'll be available in the playoffs without a consistent passing attack. He's got to continue to get better.
The 2011 season might as well be an extended training camp. We tried to kid ourselves earlier in the season when Cam Newton had a pair of 400 yard games and we went toe to toe with Green Bay, but that's what this season has always been. We're like a raw turkey without it's seasoning. Sure it may look good, but it ain't ready. Chef Rivera needs to take this Caturkey into the kitchen and add ingredients from the free agency and the draft. It needs to take a few years to sit in the oven and bake. Then when the aroma draws us in from the living room to catch a peek at our delicious treat, we might realize that we have a Super Bowl feast to enjoy for years to come.
Happy Thanksgiving Panther fans! It's been a joy to hang out with you all. While we give thanks for other things besides football, let us also give thanks in advance for the future successful seasons that surely must be coming. In the meantime, I'm sure we'll all be quietly rooting for Matty Moore during the game tomorrow. Have a good one.