Starting quarterbacks?

3 Jun

It’s an uneasy feeling not knowing who your starting quarterback will be, isn’t it? Or worse yet, knowing, but wondering all offseason if he’s the right choice. Matt Moore is that player for Carolina Panther fans this year.

Moore may indeed call most of the plays in Carolina in 2010, but then, so might Jimmy Clausen. SI’s Don Banks even suggests Tony Pike might get a look in. All we know for certain is, it won’t be the man who took the Panthers to their only Super Bowl, Jake Delhomme. Too many people were unconvinced of his leadership, including Delhomme himself.

In sifting through a few football columns and blogs over the last month, I’ve noticed more than a few predictions about quarterback controversies and teams looking to upgrade at the position in 2010-11. Amongst all the hype, one thing stands out: many are writing off the older guys. In particular, Jake “Jack Lemmon” Delhomme and Walter Matthau himself, Matt Hasselbeck, are seemingly on thin ice.

Yes, Delhomme had a rough 2009 that saw just eight touchdowns and a confidence crushing 19 picks. He also fumbled six times and took 23 sacks. The stats, as they say, don’t lie. Not even Peyton Manning – the Godzilla of NFL quarterbacks – was dropped that often. But then again, he had pass protection the size of the Tokyo skyline.

Delhomme’s behind a new line now anyway, and more importantly, has a fresh start in Cleveland. It’s run heavy football in colder conditions. It’s Josh Cribbs picking up the slack on punt returns. It’s a chance for Delhomme to find his 2004 persona, when he tallied close to 4,000 yards with 29 touchdowns. Surely, he deserves another shot at starting.

Now to The Old Man and the Seahawks, Hasselbeck: only two years ago he was just shy of 4,000 yards, lobbed in 28 TDs and had just 12 interceptions. Stunning, right? Be more stunned at the memory loss of many “experts”, who don’t give Hasselbeck a chance to finish the season with Charlie Whitehurst and J.P. Losman breathing down his neck.

In Hasselbeck’s favor, is that Seattle too, will look to run more this season. With LenDale White and Leon Washington adding thrust to the backfield, the Hawks should ease the pressure on Hasselbeck’s back, his receivers, and open up the field overall. And while Julius Jones didn’t turn in big numbers last year, he did show glimpses of his acceleration, especially over the final five weeks. Remember, it wasn’t like Jones was running with a high-octane, widely dispersed offense in support. Or a healthy Hasselbeck for that matter.

So maybe before we give up on these senior signal-callers, let’s all relax with a warm cup of milk and a hot water bottle. By all means, bet on the Moore’s and the Whitehursts of the world. But keep in mind the value of veteran leadership and knowledge of the game. Come week 13, when the air’s more frigid, crowds are louder and defenses hungrier, these things matter.

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