Welcome, Matt: John Fox and Carolina Should Embrace Overlooked QB Moore

Brad MillsCorrespondent ISeptember 16, 2009

The Carolina Panthers' quarterback situation was accurately described by general manager Marty Hurney as "the worst-case scenario."

Jake Delhomme has followed up his January collapse against Arizona with a similar game against Philadelphia and has now thrown nine interceptions in his last 51 pass attempts.

The Panthers recently signed A.J. Feeley after placing backup quarterback Josh McCown on injured reserve and have publicly stated they plan to start Jake Delhomme at quarterback this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

It would seem as though the Panthers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Their quarterback plans for 2009 have blown up in their face, and a promising team looks to be derailed by their reluctance to plan for this scenario.

However, all hope is not lost, and head coach John Fox should look to his own history for the answer.

In week three of the 2007 season, Delhomme was lost for the year with an injury that would eventually require Tommy John surgery.

At the time, they had David Carr as his backup and Matt Moore as the third string QB. Moore had been stolen from the Dallas Cowboys when they attempted to stash him on their practice squad.

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The Panthers' quarterback carousel was embarrassing. Carr was so inept that Fox was forced to introduce his defense before home games to keep the fans from booing him.

After it became apparent Carr was too shell-shocked to play, the Panthers signed Vinny Testaverde, who gave an initial jolt but was eventually shown to be inadequate.

For the final three games of the season, with the playoffs obviously out of reach, Fox decided to start the rookie.

Moore's numbers in spot duty were unimpressive. He completed only 43 percent of his passes for three interceptions and no touchdowns.

In his three starts, however, it was a completely different story.

Moore completed 62 percent of his passes, threw two touchdowns and only one interception, and went 2-1 in the three starts.

Even more impressive is who he accomplished this against. The Panthers' final three games were against Seattle, Dallas, and Tampa Bay, the winners of their respective divisions.

Moore entered the game Sunday after Josh McCown's injury and looked unimpressive. He was picked off once and barely completed half of his passes.

However, one has to put this into perspective. He came into the game when it was well out of hand. The Eagles had no reason to respect the Panthers' running game.

With very few exceptions, no quarterback is going to succeed against a defense that knows he's going to pass, especially after receiving no first-team reps during the previous week.

Traditional wisdom would indicate that the Panthers will start Moore, if they're going to start him, in week five. They'll be coming off a bye week, so he would have an extra week of preparation, and they would be playing at home against the Washington Redskins.

However, this Sunday's opponent, Atlanta, offers a much better matchup than does Washington.

The Falcons' defensive line has questionable talent outside of John Abraham, and there's no one in the secondary that should scare a defensive coordinator. I'd much rather have a young quarterback trying to beat Chris Houston than Carlos Rogers.

Furthermore, playing in the Georgia Dome is as close to a home game as the Panthers will get due to the cities' proximity to one another, and the Falcons' crowd will never be confused with the Eagles'.

As far as their future with the Carolina Panthers goes, John Fox and Marty Hurney need to realize that their best bet lies with Moore.

Even with a miraculous turnaround, they cannot be expected to go into 2010 with Delhomme as the No. 1 option at quarterback. Their choices outside of Moore are slim.

Feeley, signed this week, is 32 years old and hardly a long-term solution. The free agent pool after this season at quarterback is shallow, with Jason Campbell as the only likely player of any note to be available. A trade is unlikely, given the Panthers' draft pick situation and the lack of appealing options.

Speaking of the draft pick situation, trading their 2010 first-round pick for the rights to select defensive end Everette Brown looks even more disastrous now.

In what many are calling the best quarterback class since 2004, it is unlikely that any of the big three (Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, and Jevan Snead) will fall to the Panthers wherever they end up picking in the second round.

Adding yet another wrinkle is the fact Moore is a free agent after this season. They are running out of time to see if he has what it takes to be the Panthers' quarterback of the future, and without better options, that's a bad place to be in.

The Panthers front office and coaching staff are already in their worst-case scenario. They did not plan for this contingency, and now they are stuck with limited options.

Their best one available is to hand the reins of the team, and their future employment, to Matt Moore.

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