Friday, October 30, 2009

Heading to the weekend

Quick points before we head to the weekend, which my lovely wife was kind enough to point out to me, is my last as a man that can say "thirty-something," when asked his age. Ugh.


This game, like it or not, has been circled on the Panthers calendar since the schedule was released. Every player on this team that was here in January has wanted a shot at the birds, although they would be hard pressed to say anything suitable for a thumbtack on a bulletin board," given their current state of affairs (read 2-4).

None more so than every fans favorite punching bag, Jake Delhomme.

Jake had that torturous 6 turnover showing in the playoff tilt with the eventual NFC Champion Cardinals. The talk started then. It simmered to a low boil in the off-season, but when the interceptions started in the season opener, they grew to a deafening noise. I have said all along, that up until the Buffalo game, you would be hard pressed to pin any of their losses on Jake specifically. Jake took the heat for the loss to Buffalo, and rightfully so, in my opinion. If he makes 2 good throws (one to Gary Barnidge and the other to Steve Smith), the Panthers pick up first downs, and likely score. Didn't go that way, and now Delhomme finds himself in, what is likely the biggest game of his career.

Crazy to hear that for a week 8 game, right? It's true. Jake's future with the Panthers, and perhaps in the NFL could rest on this one performance. Hard to imagine the same guy that came off the bench in 2002 at the half against Jacksonville, and started every game he could since, is now backed so far into a corner that his resume is now called into question.

Kerry Collins took Carolina to the playoffs once, and that run ended in Green Bay, when Edgar Bennett and Dorsey Levens looked like a pre-cursor to "Double Trouble," and LB Kevin Greene was spotted on a milk carton, listed as "missing."

Playoff appearances between Collins and Jake?

Zero. Nada. Donut. Goose egg.

QB's between Collins and Jake? 5. Steve Beuerlein, Chris Weinke, Matt Lytle, Rodney Peete and Randy Fasani. Only Beuerlein managed to get Carolina close to the playoffs and that was in 1999. Apparently, missing the playoffs didn't sit well with his offensive line the following year. Beuerlein was treated like a tackling dummy in 2000, being sacked 62 times.

Bottom line is, Jake is the best option at quarterback for this team. All due respect to Matt Moore and A.J. Feeley, this is Jake's team. Sink or swim. Delhomme is the same guy that took the Panthers to the playoffs 3 times, 2 NFC Championship games, and a Super Bowl. He's had a horrible start in 2009. The team is 2-4. It looks bleak.

These are the moments where #17 thrives, and survives. When the chips are down, Delhomme has been there for this team.

On Sunday, we could be watching one of the greatest redemption stories in Panthers history, or we could be witnessing the beginning-of-the-end of the Delhomme era in Charlotte.

Personally, I prefer triumph over tragedy.

Panthers 20
Cardinals 17

Mike Solarte

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