When Ron Rivera was hired I started talking about the philosophy shift we were seeing in the Carolina Panthers, and that it was prudent that we drop preconceived notions of what the Panthers 'are', and instead focus on what Rivera wants them to become. From press conference #1 Ron Rivera has been talking about the need for a franchise quarterback, from the current rosters, the draft or free agency. This language is a good 'catch all' term that can cover all your bases, after all, it's just as likely Jimmy Clausen can become a franchise QB as find one through the draft, isn't it? I think so... but as much as Jimmy Clausen can improve his abilities as a quarterback, he can't grow three inches, or have a winning record in his career; and while that seems minute to many of us, to Ron Rivera (speaking to Darin Gantt) both seem to be of vital importance:
"Look at the type of quarterbacks that have been drafted, Look at the size of these guys. They are all big men. Look at Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco. Cam has got those types of physical attributes.... He might be the best athlete of all of them And he's a winner. Go back to junior college and his college days and you can't pass that up, either."
Good actor? Perhaps... hand that man the Oscar, but if what Ron Rivera is saying about the QB position represents his true feelings then we can narrow the list down of QBs the Carolina Panthers will be looking at to the big quarterbacks, Newton, Gabbert and Mallett.
Rivera's extended interview with Darin Gantt can be found here, and after the jump we'll talk a little more about this interview.
Recently Gantt was sold on the notion that the Panthers were going to talk up the pick to trade out of the position, saying that Hurney would love someone to fall in love with the #1 pick, or Cam Newton by extension and offer the house. Now, however, it seems he's realizing this may not be as much smokescreen and that perhaps the Panthers really have undergone a philosophical shift. When asked whether Rivera's early morning words were 'smokescreen' he responded "Could be. But Rivera was selling the heck out of it if it was"
There has been a school of thought too that even though Rivera is the coach, this is Marty Hurney's roster and as such Jimmy Clausen was his selection last year. I, for one assumed that any incoming head coach would understand the roster in place and be expected to work with it as is, at least in the beginning. Not so, says Rivera:
Rivera said he and Hurney discussed finding a quarterback when Rivera interviewed.
"In our conversations, we feel we've got to make sure we have the guy that can be our franchise quarterback," Rivera said. "Whether he's on our current roster, he's in the draft or free agency...
Sure, we can play semantics and say that technically you can 'find' someone you already have, but does anyone really think this is the case? I maintain that while we sit thinking this team should probably address other issues, sign a veteran to support Clausen and give it one more year there is literally nothing to indicate this is echoed by the front office.We're being told in plain terms: "We're looking to find a franchise quarterback now- one way or another".
There's a good chance that if this is the case Jimmy Clausen could be out of the picture fairly quickly, and somewhat of no fault of his own. Not having a CBA in place before the draft severely limits his opportunities to 'wow' the organization before they have to make a decision about the future. Personally, I still think Jimmy Clausen has the potential to be an effective starting quarterback in the NFL, with a slim chance of having franchise potential- but I don't make the decisions, and if the Panthers are looking for their 'franchise QB' Clausen may find himself a year early, and three inches short.