I just came from John Fox's Monday afternoon press conference, in which he said he "hadn't decided" who will start at QB Sunday for Carolina at Arizona.
This signified a major shift for Fox, who on most Mondays after Panther losses simply declares his confidence in Delhomme, gives some variation on the "Jake is my guy" theme and moves along to the next question.
Not this time. Fox said he might decide Wednesday, or Friday and even left open the option that he may not even announce a starter this week at all -- that whomever trots out on the field Sunday for the first series will be the starter.
But in reading the tea leaves, it sounds to me like a change is coming and that Fox, for competitive reasons, simply doesn't want to say what it is yet.
Matt Moore would be the likeliest candidate, since A.J. Feeley has barely been a Panther at all, but it's hard to tell which way Fox is going as yet. (It will become more apparent Wednesday, when whichever QB is getting the most snaps with the first-string offense will unofficially have the inside track).
Fox is obviously having trouble pulling the trigger on benching Jake. The coach is famously loyal, and Jake has been the QB for almost every big win here in Fox's tenure. But Fox has to do something. The Panthers are 2-4 and Fox, in one of his most honest statements Monday, said the team was "lucky to be 2-4" given that their current turnover ratio is minus-14. And of course Fox's own job is in question here, too.
Delhomme has thrown an NFL-high 13 interceptions in six games this year. He has looked lost for much of the season and, after throwing three of those picks in Sunday's 20-9 loss to Buffalo, he sounded somewhat lost, too.
As I've written before -- both in Monday's newspaper and back on Sept.29 after Delhomme had such a bad game against Dallas -- the Panthers need to bench Delhomme. He's the same great guy off the field, but he's a different, not-nearly-as-great-in-fact-verging-toward-awful QB on the field this season.
I'd go with Moore, and let Jake be the No.2 QB and come in if Moore struggles. I know Delhomme would want to exorcise some demons against Arizona -- which started the Jake freefall by making him turn it over six times in January.
But Fox owes it to his team (especially a defense that deserved better Sunday) to give some other QB a chance.
1 year ago