BREAKING NEWS: Panthers to Start Clausen Next Sunday

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 19: Jimmy Clausen of the Carolina Panthers throws a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 19, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Panthers head coach John Fox said in his Monday morning press conference that the team would start rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen next week, bringing a heated debate to an end just hours after it began.

Fox said that the team “(has) to spark our offense, in particular the passing game.”  An obvious declaration from the head coach, but a refreshing one given Fox’s past of hedging for days on end about decisions like this.  Since he came to town in 2002, Fox has been infamous for his press conferences, mostly because you can listen to the man talk for twenty or thirty minutes and realize when he walks off the podium that you haven’t, in fact, learned anything at all.

The decision to take the team away from Matt Moore so early is startling in my eyes.  While I’ve spent the last two weeks doing my best to stay away from the panic button, it seems the team is already pressing it.  Sure, Moore has looked painfully ineffective under center so far this year, but he doesn’t exactly have an eye-catching arsenal of weapons to throw to either.  The Panthers running game has sputtered somewhat so far, and we have worked our way into deficits early in the second half of both games, which ties the hands of the offensive play calling, at least to some extent.

Moore looked like a defeated man when he was pulled from the game Sunday, and for good reason.  His last pass as the starter of the Panthers came almost from one knee, and was more of a fumble than a forward pass.  He completed less than half of his passes and had a 2:1 interception-to-touchdown ratio.  He spent more time rolling out of the pocket looking for someone to get open than he did anything else, and when he got tired of that he tried to force balls into nearly impossible places, providing some harsh looking picks.

Clausen completed one more pass than Moore during his few minutes of fourth quarter action, with the team throwing on nearly every play to try to claw back into the game.  He also tossed an interception on a ball that was too high for Mike Goodson.  Clausen looked calm and confident on the field, which is a good sign moving forward.  Most of his completions were quick, short dump-offs to the backs because realistically they are the only ones who could get open.

I do not believe Clausen will be able to come in and rattle off an earth-moving performance, especially against Cincinnati, a team who just nabbed four interceptions from Joe Flacco.  Moore’s game to prove he wasn’t a bust was the Tampa Bay game, as their defense is supposedly fragile.  Either that assumption is wrong, or our offense is just that bad–either way, Moore didn’t capitalize.  Clausen’s  best chance for a “breakout” game will probably be San Francisco or St. Louis in late October.

I don’t see any scenario outside of injury that would lead to Clausen forfeiting the job back to Moore, and don’t really see Tony Pike’s name finding a way into the conversation either.  So, for the foreseeable future, Jimmy Clausen is the starting quarterback of the Carolina Panthers.

Another new era is underway.

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  • J. Gore

    I think this move was completely unavoidable with our current record. Our o-line problems predate this season though. They did not block for Delhomme for the majority of last season and Jake eventually lost the team. This happens more frequently than everyone realises. Just ask Kurt Warner what happened in St. Louis, Farve in Green Bay, McNabb in Philly. When this does happen then it is time for both parties to move on. I am a fan of Delhomme but was glad to see Moore take over at the end of the season. I thought the move should have came sooner and it probably would have if Jake and the rest of the team hadn’t played so well against Arizona. Moore seemed promising when I heard we picked him up off of Dallas’s practice squad. They were in the middle of a QB transition themselves and seemed to really be disappointed in losing him. The guy played baseball and loves the game. A pitcher who threw 90+ mph fastballs. But instead of following his dream he made a long-term career decision and decided to stick with football which offered him the best opportunity to become a star athlete in a major professional sport. When he came in as the starter the whole team seemed to rally around him. The O-line began blocking a little better, the receivers began catching the ball instead of letting them deflect off of their hands into a defenders. The defense became dominate once again. This clearly proved that the QB is the most important position on the field. But even though we went 4-1 to finish the season I did not feel comfortable with Moore as our starter. He looked no better than Jake at any point other than his ability to move outside of the pocket. His deep throws seemed to just hang up in the air and he almost always seems to stare down his primary receiver. Both problems seemed to carry over into this season. Out of the last five games we played from last season only three of those meant something to the opposing team. NY needed a win to stay alive in the playoffs, as did New England, & Minnesota was still playing for a shot at the #1 seed. In these game we were 2-1 with the defense playing stellar in the two wins and at or below average in the one loss. The other two games were meaningless to everyone but us and the Saints backups still gave us a tough game. Nevertheless I have supported Matt as the starter up until the 3rd quarter of week one. Simply because his wins as a starter warranted him the opportunity and because the coaching staff seemed to believe he was the best we had at the position. Then after the third interception in the endzone after the team worked so hard to get into scoring position it became clear to me that Matt is not the guy. The OC deserves some of the blame but he’s not the one on the field excecuting the plays. All 3 pics seemed to float into an ocean of defenders with one lone receiver who probably wasn’t even expecting the ball to be thrown in his direction. Maybe this is the reason the coaching staff stuck with Delhomme until there was nothing else to lose. The fact remains that the offense needed a spark then and needs one now. Matt was the temporary fix that provided that spark last year and Jimmy will provide it this year. Matt lost the team with his high floating passes and inaccurate throws and his inability to move the offense in the preseason. Clausen does seem to make better reads, and when flushed from the pocket he seems to keep his eyes downfield finishing his progressions before throwing the checkdown or taking the sack. And also to his credit throwing it away is not a sin. Moore seems like a deer in the headlights when the pressure is on. Perhaps Jimmy doesn’t work out and Matt gets another shot but right now I think that’s unlikely to playout. My opinion is Clausen is the guy for the job. GO PANTHERS!!

  • John

    Be interesting to see what Clausens record is like after 10 games. Be even more interesting to see what the fans are saying in 10 games. I expect more than one young QB mistake and I expect them to cost us games. Personally I think two games as starter simply aren’t enough when you make the change to a young QB and then really don’t give him the tools he needs. Not to let Moore off the hook. He made some bad decisions and he sometimes held the ball too long looking for a play. And although it’s all the rage to heap to much praise on the QB for a win and too much scorn for a loss it is rarely just his fault. It takes 11 guys to score. I hope the whole O had a serious look in the mirror because if they don’t pick it up there is nowhere else left to go.