Home > Preseason > Do we really have a QB controversy in Carolina?

Do we really have a QB controversy in Carolina?

Okay, Matt Moore didn’t light the world on fire last night against the Ravens. We get that. It was his first snaps of live action (just like everyone else), and he was a little rusty.

Normally, that would be okay, but there’s one problem: Jimmy Clausen played very well.

Granted, Clausen played against the Ravens’ 2nd team defense, which by comparison to the 1st team is like fighting a dog instead of a grizzly bear, but he still had a lot of poise and moxie to be a rookie playing in his first NFL game, even if it was the pre-season. He called audibles at the line, pointed out blitzers to his linemen, and took care of the football. His one turnover was due to a receiver falling on the turf after the ball was already thrown. He made a few great throws, a few good throws, but not too many bad throws. He ran with the ball to get a first down (and slid just in the nick of time to avoid needing dental work).

In short: Jimmy Clausen looked like a starting NFL quarterback against the Ravens, while Matt Moore looked like a backup quarterback.

Fellow CSR author James the Aussie had a few thoughts on Clausen in his weekly Monday Morning Optimist column, and among the things he pointed out about the rookie quarterback, the following statement stood out to me the most:

What I saw from Clausen was a player who did not look like a rookie QB walking into his first NFL huddle, he looked like a 5 year pro. For comparison I went back and looked at some footage of Mark Sanchez and Matt Stafford late in the 2009 season and for Clausen’s 9 series he looked more comfortable at the line of scrimmage than either of those QBs did in December.

That’s a huge compliment for a guy playing in his first career NFL game. I don’t care if he ran a pro-style offense at Notre Dame, the NFL is an entirely different animal, and for him to have that kind of poise is nothing short of amazing.

Now, I will cut Moore some slack – he made a few good plays that were called back due to penalties on the offensive line (notably Jordan Gross). He made some nice throws, and his stat line isn’t bad. But, it’s just the way he looked on the field – like he was a nervous kid playing in his first game, not like the guy who won the fanbase over at the end of last season when he led a dejected Panthers squad to a 4-1 finish to salvage an 8-8 season, including two brilliant performances against the Vikings and Giants.

The media is going to take this QB story and run with it, because frankly, they want Jimmy Clausen to be the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers. He is a media darling and former Notre Dame quarterback who was supposed to be a top-10 pick in the draft, but somehow fell into the Panthers’ laps at pick 48 in the 2nd round. So look for the flurry of QB controversy stories to hit the internet and television over the next few weeks, because the fact that Clausen looked so confident in his limited action is only going to feed the fire.

As for me, I don’t think there’s really a controversy yet. I still need to see Clausen perform against a team’s starting defense before I believe that he’s truly ready to take the reigns away from Moore and lead this Panthers team on Sundays. I look for Clausen to get some reps with the 1st team at some point in the pre-season, and when he does the media will certainly be all over it, foaming at the mouth to create the first real quarterback controversy in Charlotte since Jake Delhomme took over for Rodney Peete way back in 2003.

It’s been a long time, and the media is hungry for a story, so don’t expect this to go away any time soon. If Moore continues to struggle in the pre-season and Clausen continues to play well with the 2nd team, this thing is going to get blown way out of proportion, and the cries for Jimmy are going to get louder and louder until Clausen finally gets into the starting lineup.

But don’t expect Fox to listen, as we’ve learned from the past 7 years – it takes a lot for a starter to lose his spot on the depth chart with Foxy at the helm.

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