Is Jake hurt?
That's the question I keep getting today as nervous fans dissect the Panthers' second straight "not-as-impressive-as-it-could-have-been" win over a bad team -- this one over Detroit, 31-22.
For the second straight game, QB Jake Delhomme threw for less than 100 yards Sunday. This time, at least, Delhomme had zero interceptions and completed slightly more than 50 percent of his throws (10 for 19 for 98 yards and one TD). The Raiders game was much, much worse -- he was 7 for 27 with 4 interceptions, and that was undoubtedly the worst game he's ever had here. Carolina (8-2) still won both games.
So is Delhomme hurt? I don't know for sure. But I can tell you this. If he is -- if all those overthrows are the byproduct of overcompensating for a tired arm, or a sore arm, or because he can't get the best grip on the ball or something -- he's not going to tell us.
Jake would be a great neighbor, as I tell groups when I speak to them. He's down to earth, he's got a great family and he's about as close to an open book as you'll get in most respects -- but not in every one. He turns into Coach John (I Will Tell You Nothing And You Will Like It) Fox on just one subject: he downplays or doesn't mention his own injuries.
-For instance, when Delhomme had to have Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow after only 3 games during the 2007 season, he said after the fact it was something of a blessing because his throwing arm had had something wrong with it for years and had been bothering him a lot.
And all of us who cover the Panthers regularly were like, "Huh???" Delhomme had never mentioned that before. Why? He obviously thought it would put him at a competitive disadvantage (and this is common among QBs -- Peyton Manning is among those who practice this sort of gamesmanship, and he's another straight shooter on just about everything else).
So this only my educated guess after being around Delhomme throughout his tenure here, in good times and bad: I think Delhomme is not hurt, at least not seriously. I would be surprised if his arm feels as good as it did in September, but that's normal. A starting pitcher usually won't feel as good in October as he does in April because of normal wear and tear.
Delhomme has thrown the ball too high on occasion for years -- when he misses, that's usually where he misses. I think he's just had one terrible game and another where he made a couple of bad throws, but also was victimized by a couple of drops, and the stats ended up looking worse than they should because all No.17 had to do to beat Detroit was to hand off.
I could be wrong, but that's my guess. Delhomme, of course, will say this week he's not hurt, but that won't mean I'm right. Delhomme will say that until the very day he undergoes another arm operation, when and if that happens. It's just the way he is.