Panthers at a crossroads

Just four games into the season, the Panthers find themselves at a crossroads. After blowing an opportunity to take control of the NFC South this past Sunday by losing 20-7 at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Panthers (2-2) now find themselves in a difficult position -- and possibly without starting quarterback Jake Delhomme for awhile.

Carolina has road games coming up against New Orleans and Arizona, and if they play like they did on Sunday they will no doubt be 2-4 entering a game with the Indianapolis Colts.

"As a team, collectively, we have no heart, we have no energy, we have no drive," said Panthers defensive tackle Kris Jenkins. "Football is about pride and passion. I'm going to repeat that again -- football is about pride and passion.

"The pride and the passion that you have for this game makes you want to win. It's not about the money. It's not about looking the part. It's not about standing on the field so everybody can see you on TV and you look good. It's about pride and passion. If you have those two, if you win or if you lose, you're going to look like a football team."

The Panthers didn't look much like a football team Sunday.

It took 15 minutes for Carolina to fall behind 14-0 and for the boo birds to voice their displeasure with the Panthers, who have now lost their last four home games by a combined margin of 118-44.

Things may only get worse before they get better.

In a complete contradiction of what he told the local media earlier in the week, coach John Fox said after the game that Delhomme may need surgery on his throwing elbow.

"There is an option that he could have surgery," Fox said. "I can't tell him what he's going to have. It's his arm and it's his body. But that is a possibility."

Delhomme will need surgery at some point -- either this season or after the season. Fox said if Delhomme does have surgery it will cost him a good portion of the season.

"I would say it would thwart the majority of it," Fox said.

Fox said the Panthers are taking the situation on a day-to-day basis.

He also said it's possible the team could sign a quarterback next week to backup David Carr. The only other healthy quarterback on the roster is undrafted rookie Matt Moore.

"We'll evaluate that as we go," Fox said. "We will look at the tape and see how Jake is tomorrow and come Wednesday when he comes around. I can't really lock into any certain thing as far as that is concerned."

That means Carr, who had just 40 yards passing after three quarters against the Bucs, had better shake the rust off his game pretty quick.

"Definitely (there was) some rust," said Carr, who has never led his team to a winning season since joining the NFL in 2002. "I don't know if it was just me, but going with the new group I definitely could have felt better. That's going to come working with the guys and knowing where (Steve Smith) is going to be and other guys are going to be running their routes. That comes with time. I just wish we could have knocked some of that rust off faster and given our defense a chance."

Jenkins called Sunday's effort embarrassing.

"It's hard to sit in week after week and go through this," Jenkins said. "This is what's not being addressed. Week-in and week-out, we might say this, we might say that. We need to change this. Oh, this looks this way. It's not that.

"You can't pay for pride and heart. It might look good when you look at the stats or look at somebody's 40 time or you look at everything else. But it doesn't matter how many skills you have. It doesn't matter how much good you look when you catch a pass or run the ball or tackle somebody or cover somebody. It's not going to matter if you'd don't have those two things -- pride and heart."

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