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Mailbag: Carolina Panthers edition

10/31/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Time for the Carolina Panthers in our series of team-by-team mailbags:

Greg in South Riding, Va., writes: Mr. Yasinskas, thanks for all that you do. Your blog is a 4-5 times a day must for me. You're insights are great and I really like your objectivity. I just read through the transcript of your chat and I must say that you are a much more patient man than I. As a University of South Carolina fan, I am all too familiar with the backup QB craze that is taking hold of many Panthers fans. Some people have a very strong tendency to call for the other guy when the starter struggles, no matter how bad or unproven he may be.

Pat Yasinskas: Greg is referring to the part of Friday’s chat where a lot of Carolina fans were saying Matt Moore should be starting ahead of Jake Delhomme and I told them to be careful what they wish for. Yes, I know it’s hard to imagine any quarterback playing worse than Delhomme has been this year. The easy thing to do is just point to the backup and say he’s the answer to everything that ails the team. I’ve seen this phenomenon many times over the years -- I’ve heard fans screaming for the likes of Casey Weldon, Scott Milanovich and David Carr. They're the greatest thing ever -- until they actually get on the field. I also know there have been a few guys like Kurt Warner, who have come out of nowhere and done great things. Maybe Moore could fall into that category, but the odds are against it. John Fox is trying to win football games and save his job. He’s seen Moore every day in practice and knows what the backup quarterback has better than any of us. If Fox thought Moore had any chance to be better than Delhomme, he’s already be starting.


RJ in Boiling Springs writes: Pat, missed ya by a few on the chat... anyways here’s my question... What do you think the likelihood of Delhomme turning it around v. Arizona? I feel like Jake similar to Smitty has always played with a chip on his shoulder (not for the same reasons) but I think both Fox and Jake see this game that CAN turn the season around, for the team and for Jake. Now let’s say Jake does play well, Panthers win, etc... And Jake continues to do well in 2009 and leads the cats back to a respectable point, not necessarily the post-season but maybe just spoil the undefeated Saints run at perfection and knock off a few heavy weights scheduled late in the year (Giants and Pats)... point being where does that leave Jake for next year? Obviously QB's decline in their mid-30s but with no clear-cut backup and no first round pick, again does that mean another year for Jake? (I personally think that would not be the worst thing)... If he can turn it around of course.

Pat Yasinskas: Wow, there are a lot of big hypothetical situations there. But I’ll play along and say Delhomme turns it around and the Panthers have a respectable finish and Fox stays as the coach. I think Delhomme would stay in that situation. But I think the Panthers would go out and sign or draft a quarterback (probably sign a free agent with some experience because Fox thinks it takes too long to develop rookie quarterbacks). This year has shown the Panthers need to have a viable alternative to Delhomme.


Adam in Chapel Hill writes: Will you please for the love of all things holy please set your colleagues and peers straight on the NFL/Wildcat story. You were covering the Panthers I believe at the time...Dan Henning was the offensive coordinator for the Panthers. They faced the Atlanta Falcons and Chris Weinke was the winning "QB" with 7 pass attempts. Dan Henning of course left the Panthers for the Dolphins next years and suddenly the Dolphins were the spotlight team for bringing this decades old offense back into the league. Trivial, yes. Small market envy, certainly. But please set the record straight.

Pat Yasinskas: Gladly. What Adam told above is a true story. Back at the end of the 2006 season, Delhomme was hurt and the Panthers were playing Weinke and knew they had to get creative to generate some offense. They used DeAngelo Williams out of the Wildcat and it worked very well. I can’t say Dan Henning invented the Wildcat because there have been versions of it throughout history, but he made a lot of people suddenly remember it and he’s used it very well in Miami. One other thing I should point out: In the aftermath of that game against Atlanta, there were some rumblings that it wasn’t Henning’s idea to use the Wildcat. Some people will tell you it was Fox’s idea and that might have been true.