Panthers-Dolphins: Which Quarterback Has the Most to Prove in Friday's Game
The Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers will meet Friday night for their second preseason game and both have unresolved quarterback situations.
The Dolphins flirted with Kyle Orton right after the lockout ended, which would have put the quarterback competition to rest. Chad Henne was the presumed starter last year but struggled. The Dolphins looked to bring in a veteran to compete with him and chose the former Carolina Panther, Matt Moore.
The Panthers selected Jimmy Clausen in the second round in the 2010 NFL draft with the anticipation that he would be the starter for the future. After Matt Moore was injured, Clausen stepped in and looked like anything but an NFL quarterback, causing the Panthers to earn the No. 1 draft pick and use that on Cam Newton.
None of the four have been terrible so far but none have stood out, either. It was only one game, but hopefully Friday's game clears some things up.
This list ranks who has the most to gain from a strong performance Friday night.
4. Jimmy Clausen, Carolina Panthers
Out of all four quarterbacks, Jimmy Clausen might have the most to lose more than win. Clausen looked much better in his first action since last season's disaster but nowhere near the over-hyped celebrity he has been since high school.
Clausen had an interception early (it's debatable whose fault it was—it looked like poor route running on a timed route) but bounced back. That is a big improvement from last year, considering he looked suicidal most of the year and was apologetic to his own defense for his performance.
Clausen is the starter, for now, but it is very clear that the Carolina Panthers want to see Newton on the field. With a strong performance and Newton faltering, Clausen can keep his job for now, but he is fighting the inevitable.
3. Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins
Matt Moore made the move to Miami primarily because he knew he had no shot in Carolina. With two young quarterbacks on the roster, his time with the Panthers was up.
Moore showed he had what it takes to be the starter. He ended the year in 2009 with over 1,000 yards, eight touchdowns and a passer rating of 98.5 in five starts. In limited action last week, he threw for 123 yards. He completed 11 of 18 throws and looked very comfortable leading the second team.
The downside is Moore was facing mostly backups against the Atlanta Falcons, and Tony Sparano has been trying to make sure that Chad Henne is comfortable as the starter, especially after the Kyle Orton fiasco.
Moore can play his way into the starting lineup, and another solid performance would do just that. If Henne continues to struggle, Sparano might be forced to admit there is a real quarterback competition in Miami, and Henne might not be in the lead anymore.
Moore also has the chance to prove to Carolina GM Marty Hurney that he isn't done as a starter and could have served as a bridge this year to Cam Newton. The Panthers had their hands tied by having two young quarterbacks with lofty expectations, but a solid performance would be icing on the cake.
2. Chad Henne, Miami Dolphins
Chad Henne showed some real potential when he came to Miami and proved he could hang with the NFL starters after his sophomore campaign. Henne is not going to set the world on fire. It's not the type of quarterback he is. He is a game manager.
After Kyle Orton was offered as a possibility, Miami fans were quick to turn on Henne and his first preseason action did nothing to make them regret wishing for Orton. Completing half his passes and throwing for two interceptions is not a great way to win over fans.
Henne has the public support of Tony Sparano, who is trying to put his quarterback at ease so he gets a solid performance out of him. Public support tends to be the kiss of death for starters and head coaches, so only time may tell.
Henne can put his fears aside with a strong performance. Sparano would most likely want to stick with what he knows, especially with him being in the hot seat. Gambling on Matt Moore could turn out bad for Sparano very quickly. If Henne can do enough to show he is still the guy, this quarterback competition can be put to bed.
1. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton certainly didn't have the best performance of the rookie quarterbacks, but he was far from the worst. Newton showed he was capable of getting under center and making some strong throws downfield.
Newton went 8-for-19 with no interceptions or touchdowns. Certainly not otherworldly but not great, either, considering he was playing against mostly second-string New York Giants. He was inaccurate on some of his throws, but it looked like with more time, his accuracy should improve.
Newton is the future, there is no doubt about that. But can he be the present? Clausen is the starting quarterback for now, but there is a strong sense that the Panthers would like to give the reins to Newton. With a strong performance Friday night, Newton could easily bump up the depth chart and be the Week 1 starter.