The saga of quarterback Jeff Lewis took a final, yet unsurprising turn on Sunday, as the Panthers released the man, who just over one week before, was the starting quarterback. One of the reasons that coach George Seifert had let Steve Beuerlein go during the off-season, was to force himself to use Lewis. Instead, Lewis flopped.
The starting job was his to lose, and he did. Sunday's action was an all-to-rare admission by a club of having made a mistake. Brought in from Denver as the quarterback of the future, he couldn't muster enough to displace Beuerlein in the starting line-up, despite Seifert's insistence the last two training camps, that the starting job was up in the air.
At the end of last year, with playoff hopes dashed, Seifert allowed Beuerlein to start games, just to keep his playing streak alive, with the promise that Lewis would get significant time. It never happened that way. Instead of sticking with Lewis over the second half of games, Seifert would bring Beuerlein back in, acknowledging that that was his best chance to win.
With Beuerlein gone, the Panthers insisted they would not sign a veteran quarterback, and didn't. What they did do was draft Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke in the fourth round. Weinke quickly moved up to #2 on the depth chart during mini-camps and then, just over a week ago, was elevated to the first team when Lewis played his second straight bad game, throwing interceptions on three consecutive passes against Baltimore.
In my view, Lewis has never shown much, and the only reason he was still around Carolina was because the organization didn't want to acknowledge a huge mistake. When handed an opportunity during this pre-season, he fell flat on his face, quickly squelching any hope the fans had that he may come around, and irrepairably losing the confidence of his teammates.
Instead of showing the kind of firey competitiveness (and a little cockiness) that you like to see in a quarterback, he took everything in stride and always seemed to respond in a calm manner. Even this past week, and following Friday's pre-season finale against Cleveland when he never got on the field, Lewis was calm in talking about his uncertain future and missed opportunity.
With Lewis gone, the Panthers are left with three quarterbacks: Chris Weinke, Dameyune Craig and Matt Lytle. Don't be surprised to see them scoop another veteran signal-caller off the waiver wire in the coming days.