Yahoo! Sports' Jason Cole: Carolina Panthers' Quarterback Rating

Okay, here we go again. More posturing and predicting — this time from Yahoo Sports’ Jason Cole.

Last week, after the Mike Florio madness about Steve Smith calling rookie QB Jimmy Clausen a punk on Pro Football Talk, Jason Cole decided to try his hand at something similar, albeit a little different. Curiously, he started with ranking the receiving cores throughout the league, and had some things to say about the Panthers’ tight ends. “A wasteland.” But enough, I’m not going to re-hash that one again; water under the bridge, onto greener pastures…Or are they?

No, not really. After Panthers fans spirits were lifted to the moon when SI.com‘s Peter King ranked Carolina as the eighth most-likely team to make a playoff run as a Wild Card, and maybe even ranked them eighth overall in the League?… Maybe not, but that could confuse some.

Merely a day later, Jason Cole returns to dash Panthers fans’ all-time high yesterday to an almost all-time low today with his quarterback rankings.

The New Orleans Saints sit atop the list –surprising that it’s not the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning, just because it’s the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning — which I have no problem with. In my humble opinion, the team that’s just won the Super Bowl deserves to be atop the list, so long as they still have the same starting quarterback.

The Colts are No. two, New England Patriots sit at three. Fine, no problem. No qualms there. San Diego Chargers at four? Yeah, okay.

Fans of the Minnesota Vikings must be thrilled…no, wait…Brett Favre must be thrilled that Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are ranked one slot higher. I think Cole’s trying to start a battle of words between the two quarterbacks and their clubs.

Here’s where I begin to take issue: Scroll down to No. 14 overall: Tennessee Titans.

People make a lot out of the fact that Vince Young guided the Titans to an 8-2 record once he returned to the lineup. Throw in the fact that he had a career-best 82.8 rating and there’s ample reason for promise. But also acknowledge that the Titans were 1-2 in that stretch against playoff teams (the one win was a stunning game-ending driving against (the) Arizona (Cardinals) and that Young is still hardly a precision passer. Yeah, Young still has promise, but he also has plenty of questions. -Jason Cole, Yahoo Sports

Then jump down to No. 17: Philadelphia Eagles.

…As for Kolb, he has had three games with significant playing time (in his career — two-and-a-half to be exact). He got hammered in relief against Baltimore in 2008 and New Orleans in ’09during his first (full) career start. He looked great against Kansas City in his second start, but that’s the Chiefs. It’s going to be a while before the jury returns a verdict. -Jason Cole, Yahoo Sports

At No. 19, he has the Jacksonville Jaguars. I’m not going to quote every ranking I mention, but to summarize, “Garrard is a perfectly mediocre quarterback who needs a good running game and good receivers. Without help, his lack of accuracy and inability to make a crucial play at a crucial time becomes obvious.” Which is most times, because the Jags’ front office seemingly does everything it can to address wants more than needs.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ranked four places higher than the Panthers, because Josh Freeman‘s daddy “played Pro Football and Freeman gets the big picture. There are going to be struggles because of lack of talent around him, but don’t be surprised if five years from now Freeman is the best of the three.”

Okay, I’ll try to remember that. Don’t be surprised if five years from now, the Bucs have a new head coach and nobody has ever heard of Josh Freeman, other than oh yeah, he’s that dude who plays back up to…

So where do the Carolina Panthers rank in all of this? No. 30. A spot above the Cleveland Browns and two spots above the dead-last Buffalo Bills.

I guess ridding the team of Jake Delhomme saved the Panthers from being ranked 31, but the acquisition of Jake kept the Browns from being dead-last.

30. Carolina Panthers: Matt Moore did some pretty impressive things in his first real opportunity to play. His 98.5 passer-rating, 8 TD passes, two interceptions and especially his 7.6 yards per attempt over 138 passes are pretty good. Throw in the fact that he did most of that against playoff teams New England, New Orleans(*), and Minnesota and it gets more interesting. That said, if Moore falters at all, second-round pick Jimmy Clausen is quickly going to be the flavor of the month in Charlotte. -Jason Cole, Yahoo! Sports

So because the fans — members of the whine and cheese club especially; admit it, those of you whom the shoe fits — get restless, as all fans do, that’s the biggest factor in ranking the Panthers at 30? Because what happens if Kevin Kolb falters? How about David Garrard? How long did the fans of the Panthers carry on about Jake Delhomme and “Pick Six” before he was benched by John Fox? 10 or 11 games, give or take.

“Coaches who listen to fans will soon find themselves sitting amongst the fans.”

And who did Kolb lead the Eagles to a victory over in his first regular season win as a starting quarterback? The Kansas City Chiefs. Wow, that’s impressive. Not to knock Kevin Kolb, because the man has a bright future in this League. But Matt Moore led the Panthers to wins over the New York Giants, knocking them out of playoff contention; he guided Carolina to a win over the Minnesota Vikings, a team which boasted a highly rated defense (and offense), he gave the New England Patriots a good scare in his first start, and I put an asterisk by the New Orleans Saints, because they sat their starters that day, which is fine. I understand the reasons behind that.

Last I checked, the success of a quarterback depends on his offensive line, his receivers, and the team’s running game. It’s rather hard to delete all of those factors and hone in on just the individual. The counterparts have to come with it. It’s like picking out some really cool looking tires for your car or truck, and even though you know they won’t fit, you go ahead and buy them anyway. Or something like that.

When you factor in the Panthers’ offensive line, Steve Smith and the untapped potential beyond him, as well as the Panthers’ “wasteland” who call themselves tight ends, and two outstanding running backs, this is more of a “middle-of-the-road team;”  I’m not staking outrageous claims that the quarterback position is top-10, or even top-15.

Personally, I would have ranked the Panthers somewhere in the middle-of-the-pack — in the neighborhood of the Philadelphia Eagles. The Atlanta Falcons are ranked at 15, the Chicago Bears at 16, and the Eagles at 17. Carolina could easily slide into 16, put the Bears at 15, and I’ll be generous and move Atlanta up to 14. Put the Titans at 29 or 30. Somewhere Vince Young is familiar with.

In the end, it’s a rankings list. It doesn’t determine in stone what the final result of the season will be. I understand that. But for someone who gets paid to write this stuff, and does so haphazardly after the 13th spot, needs to stay away from creating lists.

I don’t know what Cole has in mind next, but I’m really looking forward to seeing where he ranks the Panthers’ running game when he gets around to it. That will be the true test to this man’s credibility as a list-maker.

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