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Before Jake, there was Steve.
Steve Beuerlein was brought in for the purpose of backing up Kerry Collins as the Carolina Panthers quarterback. The moved proved be a good one as Beuerlein played in four games for the injured Collins during the 1996 season and sported a record of 3-1.
Big wins over the Houston Oilers and San Francisco 49ers were instrumental in allowing the Panthers to lock their division and finish the season at 12-4. Their run ended at Green Bay, but Beuerlein's efforts were huge in getting them to that point.
Beuerlein saw a lot of relief duty in 1997 and even seemed to play better than the oft-injured Collins, who suffered a broken jaw in the preseason. That season would allow for Beuerlein to become the starter. Despite a poor record that year, Beuerlein's stats were respectable.
1999 was a career year for Beuerlein, who led the league in passing yards with 4,436 yards and completions with 343. He was second to MVP Kurt Warner in passer rating and touchdowns (94.6 and 36 respectively). However, the Panthers finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs.
The 2000 season would be Beuerlein's last, but he still played well despite being sacked a league-leading 62 times. He still threw for 3,730 yards and 19 TDs. However, he did throw 18 interceptions and the team finished 7-9.
Beuerlein was released, much to the chagrin of the fanbase. When he left, he owned team records in most career attempts (1,723), completions (1,041), passing yards (12,690), passing touchdowns (86), highest completion percentage (60.4 percent), and highest passer rating (87.7). Beuerlein still owns many team season records which include passing yards (4,436), touchdowns (36), attempts (571), completions (343), completion percentage (63 percent) and passer rating (94.6).
Despite the mediocre records of the Panthers, Beuerelein proved how important a quarterback can be to a team, and had he been afforded some better support in his later years with Carolina, the Panthers may have won more games.