Why John Fox and the Carolina Panthers had to make the move…now
Well, that didn’t take long did it?
On Monday, Coach John Fox of the Carolina Panthers did what many fans thought was impossible a few short weeks ago. He named rookie Jimmy Clausen starter at Quarterback.
This needed to be done. Seriously.
The Panthers are reeling. Sort of. Watching the Giants and Buccaneers embarrass them made John Fox do something unsuspected. He blinked. Last year, he rode his horse, QB Jake Delhomme into the ground. This year, with no contract after this season, Fox pulled the trigger much earlier.
What happened to Matt Moore? Was it the thought of finally running his own team? Did the pressure get to him? Or did he see Jimmy progressing in practice every day since May and knew? Did he know it was only a matter of time?
Clausen looks seasoned. At least in the brief moments he’s had so far. This is no rookie. Let’s walk through the family tree. Panthers Offensive Coordinator Jeff Davidson worked for Patriots coach Bill Belichek for years before moving on to stints with the Cleveland Browns and finally the Panthers. The offensive system Davidson employs just happens to be the one he learned under Coordinator Charlie Weis. Weis is now the Offensive Coordinator in Kansas City. Before that he was the Head Coach of the University of Notre Dame for 4 seasons, 3 of which were used to groom Clausen for the NFL. Never has a quarterback entered the NFL and landed on a team that employs the same exact offense as his college team. Right? (Someone will correct me on this if I’m wrong, I’m sure of it.)
So let’s look at this glass half empty first. The reasons reported that Clausen dropped into the second round of the draft due to his “attitude” are silly at best, dangerous at worst. Clausen has been anointed the “Chosen One” since high school in California. He never lost a High School Football game. At Notre Dame he led the Fighting Irish to respectability, although they only appeared in one BCS bowl game in his three years there. And a lot of that can be blamed on the lack of defense instead of Clausen. Clausen can be a hothead, temperamental…maybe a little too focused. And that’s exactly what this Panthers team needs.
Glass half full? Clausen was considered a top ten pick before the 2010 draft. Some had him rated the #1 QB in the entire draft. When was the last time we spent a high draft pick on a QB? Chris Weinke? Come on, man. Clausen is ready. Theoretically. The offense already seems to like Clausen better than Matt Moore. No offense to Moore, but when you start reminding people of Jake Delhomme, a change is gonna come….sooner rather than later. John Fox isn’t even the only coach to have a quick trigger this year. Andy Reid in Philly just named Michael Vick his starter over Kevin Kolb (can’t blame him there…Vick is a superstar, regardless of what he did off the field. Kolb is a clipboard holder. Sorry Kevin.) Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhut cut QB Matt Leinart in favor of Derek Anderson. Yes, THAT Derek Anderson…the one that couldn’t even keep his starting job in Cleveland. Quarterbacks are playing musical chairs now more than ever.
If you have to start a rookie QB, you need a few things already in place. You need a stingy defense. We got that, sort of. At times. Oh, be quiet, naysayers. You need a great offensive line. We got that too, sort of. When Jeff Otah plays anyway. And you need a great running game to rely on. With our Double Trouble tandem, I can safely say we have that. Look at what happens when you get these things….the last three rookie qb’s to have success were Ben Rothlisburger in Pittsburgh, Joe Flacco in Baltimore and Matt Ryan in Atlanta. All three were winning quarterbacks and all three led teams to the playoffs in their rookie seasons. Big Ben went 15-1!!! The good news? Clausen graded higher than all three coming out of college.
So why so glum, Carolina? This is exactly what you wanted. A nimble, ACCURATE, young quarterback that can become “The Franchise”. The face of a young, hungry talented Panther team. And suddenly, it was placed in your lap, wrapped up in a shiny golden bow. It’s not often that 1st round talent falls to you at 2nd round prices. Clausen is locked up for 4 years at a bargain right now. Hopefully, he will begin to earn his paychecks on Sunday. Meanwhile…our biggest concern is getting offensive tackle Jeff Otah back on the field. Our running game has been abysmal to say the least….consider it something else to complain about. As Panther fans…it’s what we do best.