NFL: The 5 Best Moments in Jake Delhomme's Career
Jake Delhomme was signed by the Houston Texans today, to add quarterback depth to a depleted roster.
Delhomme will probably end up backing up North Carolina legend T.J. Yates.
A lot of people are scoffing at this signing and pointing out that the last time Delhomme played professional football, he threw 11 interceptions in a two-game span.
It is easy to remember Delhomme for his mistakes and his turnovers. But a lot of people forget that he almost brought a championship to Carolina, led the Panthers to the playoff three times, had countless come-from-behind wins, was a Pro Bowl quarterback and is the best quarterback in Panthers history.
So here are the five best moments in Jake Delhomme's career.
1. The Strike to Smith (2003 NFC Divisional Playoff)
The Rams were the Greatest Show on Turf, and the Panthers were just the feel-good story that was about to go up in flames.
The Rams had the best quarterback in the NFL, a Hall-of-Fame running back, an opportunistic defense and an experienced and borderline genius head coach.
But once again, the Panthers proved they had one thing that no other team in the NFL had: the luck of Jake Delhomme and the personality of Steve Smith.
Delhomme threw a 69-yard strike to Smith on the first play of overtime to send the Panthers to the second NFC championship game in franchise history.
2. The Debut (9/7/2003, First Game Against the Jacksonville Jaguars)
The Panthers were once again lifeless.
Rodney Peete moved around like a helpless elder in a Life Alert commercial, Stephen Davis looked like a total bust, the offensive line was beyond putrid and Julius Peppers and the defensive line took the first half as an opportunity for a 30-minute power nap.
It looked like the Panthers were beginning a season that would have them picking in the top three of the next NFL draft.
Then John Fox decided to replace Peete with the unknown that was Jake Delhomme, and everything about the team seemed to change.
The team that was once a doormat was now a Super bowl contender; the team that used to run backward now had two of the best running backs in the NFL; the defensive line that was taking a nap was now breaking down blocks and blocking kicks; and the coach that was once on the hot seat was now a miracle worker.
Delhomme led the Panthers to a huge comeback victory and gave Panther fans a reason to believe again.
3. San Diego Shootout (2008 Opener Against the Chargers)
The Panthers were in a state of transition coming into the 2008 season.
The 2003 running back duo of DeShaun Foster and Stephen Davis had been replaced with the potential of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. The defense was filled with new faces. And John Fox was once again on the hot seat after failing to live up to Super Bowl expectations for two straight seasons.
The only real consistent thing about the Panthers going into the 2008 season was just how lucky quarterback Jake Delhomme was.
Some people thought he was lucky to still be playing after a brutal shoulder surgery; some analysts said he was lucky to be a Pro Bowl quarterback; some writers wrote that he was lucky to be a starting quarterback; and some fans even felt like he was lucky to be in the NFL.
When Delhomme threw a beautiful pass in the last second of the 2008 opener to beat the Chargers, we accepted that he was no longer lucky.
He was just a winner.
4. Delhomme and Smith Shock Chicago (2005 NFC Divisional Playoff)
I have always thought that Delhomme-to-Smith was one of the most underrated combinations in the history of the NFL.
People forget about this because of Delhomme’s struggles late in his Panthers career and because of Smith’s resurgence under Panthers star quarterback Cam Newton.
They may not have had the swagger of Culpepper and Moss; they may have not had the numbers of Manning and Harrison; they may have not had the victories of Brady and Branch; and they may have not had the soap opera drama of McNabb and Owens. But when Delhomme and Smith were rolling they were just as good as any of the above mentioned duos.
This was proven on a windy afternoon against the powerhouse Chicago Bears.
Delhomme and Smith hooked up 12 times for 218 yards and two huge touchdowns. It was one of the most impressive performances in Panthers history.
We also have to remember that Smith was doubled due to a lack of a second receiver (Mushin Muhammad had decided to go to Chicago after a big 2004 season). He was probably the main focus of the Bears defensive game plan and the Panthers were still a team that relied heavily on the run. Plus, Chicago had one of the best defenses in the NFL.
This performance was beyond surprising and noteworthy, it was magical.
5. Bo Time (Bojangles Commercial)
Jake Delhomme’s acting in this Bojangles commercial almost perfectly describes his career as a Panther.
His acting was inconsistent, it was over-emotional, it was flawed, it was exciting and it ended up being pretty hilarious.
Delhomme’s Bojangles commercial and his NFL career are both things that I will never forget just based off their sheer entertainment and uniqueness.
At the end of the commercial, Steve Smith tells Delhomme, “you complete me,” in a joking manner.
But in a weird way Delhomme always completed the life of any Panthers fan. He brought us three playoff appearances; he brought us to the Super Bowl. He went to the Pro Bowl, he won in the last second way too many times and he took us on a unique journey that Panther fans will probably never forget.
Even though his name has become a punchline for analysts and uneducated fans, the history of the Carolina Panthers could not be written without a huge chapter on Jake Delhomme.
He not only completely turned the Panthers around from irrelevancy, but in a weird way completed the experience of being a Panthers fan.