Opening Day Sparks Quarterback Controversy in Carolina

Austin Penny@@AustinPennyAnalyst ISeptember 13, 2009

The Carolina Panthers season could not have opened on a more disappointing note Sunday, as they were manhandled by the Philadelphia Eagles and saw the scoreboard read 38-10 at the end of the day.

The Eagles' victory can be attributed mainly to the play of Jake Delhomme.  For the second straight meaningful game, Delhomme was painfully bad, throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble.

Delhomme started out crisp on the team's first drive, but things quickly turned sour.  The first interception of the afternoon came on the Panthers' next drive and was followed by a Delhomme fumble that was recovered for a touchdown.

The first drive was quickly overshadowed, and Delhomme threw another interception before the first half came to a close, which led to another Eagles touchdown.

After halftime, Delhomme's downward spiral sped up, as he threw interceptions on the Panthers' first two drives. 

Then, a moment that some Panthers fans have been waiting for for a long time happened. 

Jake Delhomme was benched by John Fox.

Josh McCown came into the game and was very unimpressive.  McCown finished 1-6 for two yards and took a sack.   To make things worse, McCown left the game after taking a hard hit in his left knee. 

That meant that the Panthers would have to go to Matt Moore, the emergency quarterback.

Moore was perhaps the brightest spot of the day for the Panthers' quarterbacking crew.  His numbers aren't overwhelming but, considering the other options available, they are the most enticing.

Moore finished 6-11 for 63 yards and an interception while taking a sack as well.  The positives come from the last Panthers drive of the game, where Moore was 5-8 for 58 yards and had four consecutive completions at one point. 

The Panthers now have the one thing they were adamant about not having in training camp, a quarterback controversy. 

Whether the coaches choose to believe it or not, it is upon them. 

Delhomme desperately needed at least a decent game on Sunday afternoon to rid the bad taste of January's playoff debacle once and for all. 

He did not get that, and his performance was nearly as deflating as it was in that game.

There has been a smattering of Panthers fans who have continued to call for Delhomme's head all postseason but it is hard to believe that anybody envisioned a day quite like today to open the season.

Expect John Fox to stick with Delhomme for the time being and to downgrade the importance of his benching.  The thing is, it is a huge deal for this team, as Delhomme has never been benched in all the poor performances he's suffered through in his time as a Panther.

The bigger problem for the Panthers is that there is not another established quarterback on the roster.  McCown and Moore are both shaky at best when it comes to talking about starters. 

It is likely that we will see Delhomme start in Atlanta next Sunday, but you have to think his leash will be pretty short.  Hopefully its just another one of Jake's classic breakdowns, but the fact that it happened on opening day is a startling idea.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.