The Panthers did do some positive things this week against the Philadelphia Eagles, but being efficient wasn't one of them. Despite having the ball 38:30, the Panthers only mustered 8 points. The Panthers made drive-killing penalties on the first 4 possessions of the game, and for the most part took themselves out of the game with poor offensive execution.
Jevon Kearse nailed Panthers Quarterback Jake Delhomme late in the first quarter with a vicious hit that should draw a fine from the NFL when they announce those later this week. Before the hit, Delhomme was 5 of 6 passing and no interceptions. After the blow from Kearse, Delhomme completed 19 of 36 passes and 4 interceptions.
"I felt a little woozy for a little while after, but you can't use it as an excuse," Delhomme said regarding the hit he took from Kearse. However, Delhomme clearly was not himself on the sidelines. The Fox television crews kept zoning in on Delhomme, showing him blinking and rubbing his eyes throughout the game.
"He's not going to come out unless he can't walk," Left Tackle Jordan Gross said. " That's what's great about him."
Is it that great, though? Delhomme seemed to sail his passes high and make bad decisions, often throwing it into double coverage. Fox should have sat Delhomme on the bench and put in Chris Weinke at that point. Weinke for some reason is the Panthers 3rd string quarterback, but is more capable physically than Rodney Peete, the current backup quarterback. Peete is the backup because of his familiarity with Dan Henning, the Panthers offensive coordinator, but Weinke represents the best chance the Panthers have to win if Delhomme goes down. Weinke has the strongest arm on the team, and can throw the deep ball with touch. In a game where your team is behind by 20 + points, throwing the deep ball would be an asset. The Panthers are usually content with running the ball and keeping with their game plan, even if it means losing the game in the process. Perhaps putting Weinke in wouldn't have done anything positive besides saving Jake Delhomme a beating, giving him some rest after sustaining what appeared to be a concussion, putting a player on the field that had all his faculties, and giving the team a chance to win. Weinke could have thrown 4 interceptions just as easily as Delhomme did, and therein lies the point – At that time, Delhomme did not represent the best chance for the Panthers to win, and that blame should fall squarely on the shoulders of John Fox and Dan Henning.
"There were discussions about that," Fox said after being questioned about pulling Delhomme. "We had our medical people look at him, and our coaching staff talked to him. From an injury standpoint, we didn't think we were putting him at risk by continuing to play him."
Jake Delhomme is a tough competitor and doesn't know the meaning of the word "quit". That's what the Panthers and the Panthers fans love about him: his determination, his intestinal fortitude, and his moxie. But the facts don't lie – The Panthers were moving the ball in the running game, and were having a pretty good day defensively against Terrell Owens, Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook. Coach Fox has always stressed making smart decisions and taking care of the ball.
On Sunday, Delhomme did neither, and it's the coaching staff's fault.
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