Don't look at George Seifert's benching of Jeff Lewis as a bold and dramatic move, he had no choice. After Lewis threw three interceptions on three consecutive passes during the first half of the Panthers pre-season game at Baltimore, it was clear to everyone that Lewis was over his head as the starting quarterback.
In the Panthers' first home exhibition game, the fans showed little patience with Lewis, immediately booing him after his first interception. They have showed much more patience with 4th-Round draft pick Chris Weinke. Add in the fact that Weinke helped lead the Panthers back from a 17-0 deficit to a 20-17 win and you see why Seifert had no choice.
Can you imagine how hard the crowd at Ericsson Stadium would have ridden Lewis if he had started the pre-season finale with Cleveland Friday? Can you imagine what it would have been like the first time Lewis made any mistake? Can you imagine the behind-closed-doors lockerroom talk if Seifert hadn't benched Lewis? Players would have seen a coach who either didn't get it or was in denial.
Lewis has never shown me much of anything since coming to Charlotte, I had to assume that the franchise was seeing something I wasn't in way of an upside for Lewis. Unfortunately, he has done nothing during this pre-season to calm my fears, and has now apparently shown management the same thing.
Now, the real challenge comes, do they even keep Lewis on the roster. Seifert said Monday that they haven't even considered cutting ties with Lewis in the first round of cuts that are due Tuesday. My guess is: they'll be combing the waiver wires Tuesday and Sunday looking for a veteran quarterback they can get for nothing. Cutting Lewis at this point would be an $800,000 cap savings.
Guys have resurrected themselves before, and Lewis may eventually do that either with the Panthers or someone else. But, it won't be as the starter, that will only come in an injury-relief type role. Lewis has no credibility left among Panther fans...at least the coach has some.