After reviewing the first snaps that Jimmy Clausen took as a veteran, it is easy to say that he still is not living up to his “Golden Boy” status.
For the time being, Clausen has secured the starting job. According to Pat Yaskinas of ESPN.com, the Carolina Panthers organization is hoping Cam Newton will be ready to start sooner rather than later.
Clausen started the first preseason game off right connecting downfield with Brandon LaFell. He stumbled after that, giving up a pick-six to linebacker Michael Boley. Upon review, it may have just been a sloppy play by DeAngelo Williams who did not look back to the ball and made a poor cut on an out route.
The most impressive part of Clausen’s game after that was his ability to bounce back. Clausen connected with LaFell deep again, even though it was called back, and found new tight end Greg Olsen in the end zone.
What might have been the biggest sign that there is still hope for Clausen to be an NFL quarterback is that he was making smart decisions like throwing the ball out of bounds and sliding when no one was open rather than waiting for someone to open up and taking a sack.
It might be the talent around him now or it might be the added year of experience or it might just be natural maturity, but Clausen looked much better. Even with the improvements Clausen has made, it is only a matter of time before he's back on the bench.
Newton is the future of this team, there is no doubt about that. He showed a big arm and the ability to make some big plays in his first “real” NFL action. Newton took a couple big sacks, but not because of his dancing feet, but rather poor protection. All the things that critics have said about him, he seemed to be able to overcome.
It looks like he understands the offense. It looks like he is willing to rely on his arm and the offense rather than using his legs right away. Newton will have his moments where he makes big mistakes, mistakes that might cost the Panthers games.
No. 1 picks do not sit on the bench, even if Newton is making less money than previous No. 1 picks, he still is the biggest investment that the Panthers have made in some time. Securing their homegrown talent and bringing in the added receiving help this offseason was a testament to building a winner around him.
The only thing that is keeping Clausen as the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart is Cam Newton. Once Ron Rivera and Newton himself feels that he is ready to start, he will start, regardless of how Clausen is performing.
If Clausen’s initial performance is any indication, he still can be a legitimate quarterback in the NFL. Just not in Carolina.