Delhomme's good days all behind him?
By Tom Sorensen
Posted: Tuesday, Sep. 15, 2009
Jake Delhomme led the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl, an NFC Championship Game and, last season, a 12-4 record. He played in a Pro Bowl.
But his accomplishments suddenly feel so ancient they might as well be captured on video tape and in yellowed newspaper clippings.
Delhomme has to prove against Atlanta on Sunday that he still is capable of playing quarterback in the NFL. His meltdowns, back-to-back and six months apart, are so staggering they're incomprehensible.
There is a history of athletes instantly losing the qualities that made them special. Boxer Mike Tyson did, golfer David Duval did and baseball player Chuck Knoblauch did. Perhaps Delhomme has, too.
If he is as bad against Atlanta as he was against Philadelphia and Arizona, he has to be pulled early.
But what does John Fox do after that?
With backup quarterback Josh McCown gone for the season, Fox's top backup is Matt Moore. Moore, 25, is big enough, athletic and the team's best table-tennis player. He can move a little and throws a nice spiral.
But nothing he has done, and nothing the Panthers have said or implied, indicates he is Carolina's quarterback of the future. If Delhomme continues to implode, Fox might have to declare Moore the quarterback of the present.
This is how urgent the quarterback search has become. McCown could have returned in a few weeks, a source says. But the Panthers couldn't wait a few weeks. They needed a quarterback now. So even though McCown knew the offense, they shipped him to injured reserve, meaning he can't play again this season, and hired former Eagle A.J. Feeley.
We like new, but in Feeley's last season he threw eight interceptions and five touchdown passes. He is not a savior. All the saviors are gone. Looking for a quarterback in mid-September is like being the last writer at the press box buffet. Peas. Cool.
The Eagles also had interest in Feeley. After the Panthers signed him, the Eagles signed 39-year-old Jeff Garcia. Garcia is a smart guy who moves his team down the field in little steps and rarely makes a drive-stopping, game-ending mistake. But he is not known as a happy reserve. He wants to be the quarterback.
Delhomme is the quarterback. He has earned the opportunity to start against Atlanta. Now he has to earn the right to stay in the game.
I've heard from at least 30 readers who ripped me for my long-time support of Delhomme. They all saw the demise of the quarterback coming while I did not. They all knew he was going to fail Sunday.
Some, I recall, even anticipated that Delhomme would turn the ball over five times. A few made the prediction Sunday night, but most waited until Monday.
I believed Delhomme could one more time summon the savvy and competitiveness we saw last September, October, November and December. I haven't given up.
So I'm guilty. I admit it.
But I'm not that guilty. I also advocated that the Panthers sign Michael Vick.