Home > Regular Season > Can the Panthers win with Jake Delhomme?

Can the Panthers win with Jake Delhomme?

The Carolina Panthers are at a point in the season where decisions have to be made. Through the first 6 games of the season the team is sitting at 2-4 and in third place in the NFC South (thanks to the Buccaneers being in rebuilding mode — otherwise they could be in the cellar), and there are no signs at this point that this team will climb out of the deep ditch they have dug for themselves.

One of the main problems the Panthers have at this time is the poor performance from the quarterback position. Jake Delhomme has been nothing short of terrible through the first 6 games, and for his efforts he is leading the NFL in interceptions thrown (13) and has the 5th-worst passer rating in the league (56.8).

Of course, not all of the blame can be laid on Delhomme’s shoulders. The coaching staff has not been top-notch this season and has failed to make proper halftime adjustments in most of the team’s losses, and the offensive play-calling has been atrocious for the majority of the season. The special teams unit has been everything but special and has been directly responsible for the offense having poor field position and the defense being trapped on a short field, leading to too many deficits on the scoreboard.

Even though the coaching has been sub-par and the special teams have been terrible, the team’s ability to win still lies on the shoulders of the quarterback. Teams with good quarterbacks win in the NFL, plain and simple, and the Panthers do not have a good quarterback (hell, they don’t even have decent one anymore). Jake Delhomme is a shell of his former self, and even though no one knows what the cause is for his total meltdown, the fact still remains that he is nowhere near the quarterback that led the Panthers to a 12-4 record and NFC South title last season.

Since the playoff game against the Cardinals last January, Delhomme has thrown 17 interceptions and lost 3 fumbles. His biggest problems have been his constant attempts to force passes into a double (and sometimes triple) covered Steve Smith’s hands, and his consistent over-throwing of routes, leading to easy interceptions for opposing defensive backs. When Delhomme tries to prevent himself from over-throwing a receiver downfield, he ends up under-throwing the pass and has it picked off by a linebacker, further compounding the problem.

What is the most mind-boggling, however, is the fact that even though Delhomme’s struggles and statistics are well-known by everyone who follows football, Jeff Davidsion (the offensive coordinator) continues to call pass plays in situations when a running play would be the best option. The Panthers have one of the best running back tandems in the NFL, yet they are not being used properly by the coaching staff who instead decides to put the ball in Delhomme’s hands (thus causing the interceptions or lost fumbles).

Calling a 2:1 pass-run play ratio with two of the best running backs in the league is questionable, regardless of who is behind center. Add in the fact that the quarterback in question is a fading semi-star who has lost his ability to lead a team to victory, and the 2:1 pass-run ratio becomes downright absurd. But, as long as the Panthers continue to play the style of football that they have played over the first 6 games of the season, the losses will continue to pile up in the standings, and all playoff hopes will be gone.

It is time for the coaching staff to make a move and put Matt Moore at starting quarterback, if for no other reason than to evaluate his talent-level so the front office knows what to do on draft day in April. The Panthers have 10 games remaining on the schedule, many of them against upper echelon teams in the league, which is a perfect opportunity to make something good out of a non-playoff season.

Until the coaches realize that the team cannot win with Jake Delhomme at quarterback, the Panthers are going to continue to struggle and will not compete for a playoff spot this season — and unfortunately for Panthers fans it doesn’t appear that any changes will be made before it is too late.

Can the Panthers win with Jake Delhomme? Yes — as long as he’s not under center.

Categories: Regular Season
  1. Evan "McSpazz" Edwards
    27 October 2009 at 4:50 PM

    Great breakdown. I think every Panther fan and NFL follower knows that Matt Moore is not the long term answer, but the Panthers must find out if he can hold the fort down for at least one season. The play calling is just plain crazy. I know they have played from behind in most of their games, but with that combo of Williams and Stewart running is still the best option for them to get back into and win games. If John Fox wants to remain in Carolina past this season which doesn't look very likely with the record and Cowher waiting in the wings, but if does he should think about a Wildcat with both Williams and Stewart on the field at the same time. Possibly even having Steve Smith taking the snaps and handing off to either one or taking the ball himself. He seems athletic enough to make an accurate pass every once in awhile. Couldn't be much worse than what Jake is doing right now.

  2. bwsmith25
    27 October 2009 at 5:32 PM

    I don't know how Fox can explain why he keeps sticking with Delhomme. Sure, Matt Moore might not be the answer, but he can't be much worse than what Delhomme is right now. And, until he gets a real chance to lead the team, no one will ever know if he is the future of the franchise or not. I say stick him in there for the final 10 games and find out. He may be the next Tom Brady, and he may be the next Joey Harrington, but at least we will know one way or the other.I like your idea about running the Wildcat with Smitty under center — that would definitely be an upgrade to the current offense. Can you imagine defenses trying to figure out if Smith, Williams, or Stewart is going to run the ball, and then trying to stop them?I think Fox's days are numbered, especially with Mike Shanahan and Bill Cowher sitting at home waiting for phone calls to get back in the league. Cowher lives in NC, so he would be the most logical choice, and his Steelers teams always had good running games with mediocre QB's (until they got Big Ben). Either way, I don't expect Fox to be the head coach next season, unless they put Matt Moore in and he leads them to a miraculous playoff run.

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