Moore or Clausen? The Debate Begins to Rage

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 19: Matt Moore of the Carolina Panthers gets up after being hit hard in the second half during their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium on September 19, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

I promised myself I was going to give this loss anywhere from 12-15 hours to sink in and let my thoughts on the game fester and stew before I might say anything that’s too rash or perhaps too conservative. I like to maintain a sort of even keel, whenever possible. I decided against my customary practice, instead waiting about eight hours, as the rumblings from other sites continue to multiply.

We can surmise that the big question after Carolina’s second loss is who will be the starting quarterback in Week Three against the Cincinnati Bengals?.. Who would I like to see at quarterback in Week Three?

First I have to think back to before the draft, but after the point of which Carolina had released Jake Delhomme.

How many fans thought that Carolina would, without a doubt draft a quarterback with their first pick in the draft? I’m not asking this to prove anyone’s point wrong, rather I’m looking at this from two perspectives.

First, before Carolina drafted a quarterback, I felt pretty good about Moore going into the season as the team’s starting option under center. My focus going into the draft, as many of you already know, was wide receiver. Finding that No. 2 guy to complement Steve Smith. At this point, my confidence in Moore is in the range of 85-to-90 percent. This guy can get the job done and is cool under pressure. Perhaps Moore felt the same way, or similar…The team has my back, Marty Hurney and John Fox are entrusting me with the offense. I’m ready to step up.

I think it’s pretty safe to assume that not many of us figured Carolina would be drafting a quarterback, and even when Clausen was available when it was Carolina’s turn to pick, how many folks really expected Hurney and Fox to snatch him up, instead of Golden Tate or Dexter McCluster?

The popular opinion when a team drafts a player, is to say well, we took the best player available with that pick. Perhaps Clausen was the best player available at that point…he was certainly the best player available for much of the second round.

So, Carolina drafted him.

My jaw hit the floor and I practically flipped out, enraged. “How could the team draft a quarterback so high, when they already have their guy in place at the position, who is still fairly young, to boot? This could break Moore’s trust in the front office; this could potentially shake Moore up, because now he’s on a tight leash — walking a thin line.”

Indeed, Clausen was the best player available at that particular time when it was Carolina’s turn to make a selection. But was their decision based solely on that, or was there a combination of best player available, and we don’t really know how Moore is going to perform when the heat gets turned up. Will he melt and wither away, or will he hop around and perform well?

So those are the couple thoughts I had on Jimmy Clausen vs. Matt Moore up until about six weeks ago.

Let’s suppose Carolina hadn’t drafted Jimmy Clausen. The team decided to go the same route beyond where Clausen was initially picked, and instead took Tate or McCluster at 48 overall. That would have proposed a different position to be drafted in the third round — perhaps Armanti Edwards, and Carolina still has it’s No. 2 pick for next year. In the seventh-round, Carolina still drafts Tony Pike. Now there is Moore, Pike, and Cantwell as quarterback options for the team.

Fast-forward to present-day, and are we concerned about the quarterback position? Does Moore still have the poor start to the season which he’s actually contributed so far? I tend to believe so, and because of the fact that regardless of his performance against the Giants, the rug was not pulled from beneath him after he succumbed to a concussion. He still retained his starting job in preparation for the Buccaneers. Against Tampa Bay, he lost my sympathy D grade from a week ago, and earned an F.

So now, Hurney looks pretty good in all of this. Some will say the pick was made because owner Jerry Richardson wanted Clausen since he was available, that the hands of Fox and Hurney were forced to select accordingly. It’s reasonable to accept that Richardson played a role in that decision, considering if he wanted to almost re-build a team from the ground up, he would first want to install a quarterback which to build a team around.

Not that Moore couldn’t have been “that guy” to have the team built around, but the best way to build a team around a quarterback is by selecting him through the draft. And the fact that Clausen was there and available with “no strings attached,” made the pick even more logical.

So now we come to the unpopular (to some) part: who starts in the third week of the season?

There are jobs on the line here. Futures are at stake, and in some cases fates are sealed. So it’s reasonable to suspect that Matt Moore will be the starting quarterback in Week Three. It’s also just as reasonable to expect the change-up to be adhered to, thus keeping Clausen as the starter going forward.

A precedence has been established in Carolina, it seems. If a player stinks the joint up, he will be replaced. There’s also some irony to this story. quarterbacks coach Rip Scherer, and offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson were both members of the Cleveland Browns coaching staff at some point in their careers; Scherer most recently. Are we going to see in Carolina, the quarterback carousel that we’ve seen in Cleveland since Bernie Kosar was quarterback for the Browns?

The season is still young, and while Moore’s confidence may be a bit bruised, it’s not broken … yet.

As for Clausen, he made a strong case to be the starting quarterback from here on out, but are we really sure we want to see if he’s got the mental toughness instilled in him already, or perhaps wait for a few more games — until the Bye Week at least, to give Moore the most fair opportunity?

I’m an equal opportunist. I have no loyalty to any-one player. But I do believe that a man should know where he stands in the eyes of his job.

Whomever starts against Cincinnati next Sunday, is not a major concern to me. What is a concern is sticking with that person regardless of how they play. If it’s Moore, then he deserves to at least be allowed through the Bye Week. After all, it’s not like the team did anything to upgrade the receiving core.

If it’s Clausen, then that’s fine, too. But when that change is made, Fox had better make sure it’s for good.

Follow Cat Crave on Twitter @THECatCrave.

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Tags: Carolina Panthers Jimmy Clausen Matt Moore NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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