Where to begin? I have never seen a fanbase, writers, the media, or even that casual observer hate a quarterback as much as Jake Delhomme.
I am going to try and keep this as light as possible, so please excuse me if I get a little heated at times.
Delhomme is not the poster child of the kind of quarterback a team wants to have, although he does make up for what he lacks in other areas. Delhomme's leadership, competitive nature, and selflessness are intangibles that one doesn't learn.
After the worst game of his career, Delhomme shouldered the entire blame of the team's and coaching staff's shortcomings. That's integrity. That's also Delhomme being selfish, taking all the credit for a terrible, overall team performance.
I know that Delhomme finished just above dead middle (15th overall) in the quarterback rankings for 2008, but he wasn't in bad company. Names like Eli Manning, Jason Campbell, Matt Ryan, and Super Bowl winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger accompany his name in the less-than-stellar rankings.
Delhomme finished ranked 15th overall among quarterbacks, completing 246-of-414 passes for a rating of 59.4 percent; 3,288 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and an overall quarterback rating 84.7.
I'm not saying Roethlisberger is a bad quarterback, and I'm not trying to say that Delhomme is better than Big Ben, but their respective numbers are interestingly similar.
The Steelers' running game was somewhat of a non-factor in 2008 and Pittsburgh had to throw the ball more than run it. The Panthers on the other hand, stayed healthy in their ground game, and relied on that more than Jake's arm, whenever possible.
Roethlisberger finished with a 14th overall quarterback rank—one spot higher than Delhomme—completing 281-of-469 passes for a rating of 59.9 percent, five-tenths of a percent better than Delhomme. Roethlisberger threw for 3,301 yards, 17 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, and an overall quarterback rating of 80.1.
Again, don't take this out of context as me saying Delhomme is better than Roethlisberger or something ridiculous like that. I am merely using Roethlisberger as the measuring stick of success, as he guided the Steelers to their sixth Super Bowl title.
At some point the fans, media, us writers, and the casual observer need to get one thing in their head: Jake Delhomme is a game manager. He's not the Brett Favre gunslinger, nor is he the Tom Brady or Peyton Manning—Peyton Manning or Tom Brady ( I don't want to upset anyone debating which QB is better) of precision. Delhomme's a game manager.
As soon as everyone gets back to that mindset, and takes Delhomme off the pedestal you have put him on, the more you'll begin to like and appreciate Jake for who he is. He will never live up to your expectations of greatness if you hold the bar too high.
To me, Delhomme is a solid quarterback. He's been instrumental in this team's success since 2003, having played a part in Carolina's going to the Super Bowl in 2003, the NFC Championship—albeit a loss—in 2005, and the 12-4 season we just witnessed in 2008, with a playoff loss I have been ready to move on from for almost five months now.
When you look at his overall career as a Panther, wins and losses, he finishes with an average quarterback rating of 84.6. Not the worst rating in the world, but it's higher than a middle-of-the-road rating.
Delhomme has also never thrown for more than 16 interceptions in a season. In 2003, (Super Bowl season) Delhomme threw 16 interceptions, and in 2005 (Playoff season with a loss to Seattle in the NFC Conference Championship game) he threw 16 interceptions.
Delhomme's been under the gun since he took the team to the Super Bowl in '03, and understandably so. We want a Super Bowl title in Charlotte!
2009 is going to be a season to remember. The Panthers should go the distance—deeper into the playoffs than 2008, and whichever team they face in the NFC Championship game will have their hands full.
So let's everyone give Delhomme a break. Stop hating on him so much. You're tirelessly trying to draw blood from a stone. The Panthers have him signed up for five more years, and with the guaranteed money in his contract, expect to see him in a Panthers uniform for at least three more of those five years.