OK, here's a pop quiz. After which 2009 Panther game did Jake Delhomme say, “I should get the blame. It’s inexcusable. It’s disappointing.”
You’ve got a lot of choices there, don’t you? The correct answer is after the Arizona playoff game – the 33-13 loss that started all the mess around here. Delhomme had six turnovers in that one and never has completely recovered.
Now he will play Arizona again, in Phoenix this time. The bad news for Delhomme is that the Cardinal defense may actually be better right now than the one from last year’s Super Bowl team.
-- You may know that Delhomme and Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner were teammates on the 1998 Amsterdam Admirals. Warner beat Delhomme out for the starting job and started almost all season. (They were each paid about $1,600 per game back then – a total of $16,000 for the 10-game season). What you may not know is that the field where the Admirals played had a moat surrounding it to keep unruly fans off the field.
-- It will be really interesting to see how the Panthers cover – or don’t cover – Larry Fitzgerald. Because Warner’s release is so quick, the Panthers’ defensive line won’t have many chances to get to him unless the secondary plays really well.
Putting Chris Gamble on Fitzgerald most of the time is the best way to go, but he better get a lot of safety help, too. Fitzgerald is particularly dangerous near the goal line because of his size – he’s scored five times already this season and absolutely killed the Panthers in the playoff rout.
-- I’ve called for Delhomme’s benching for much of the past month, but coach John Fox hasn’t listened (no surprise there). Fox has wedded himself to Delhomme, and it would be a fine storybook finish for Delhomme today if he could exorcise some Arizona demons.
Could it happen? Yes, but only if the Panthers’ running game and defense dominates. Delhomme has a chance to be effective then.
Still, the Cardinals are hot -- did you see that impressive win over the New York Giants last week? -- and they have too many weapons.
My prediction: Arizona 27, Carolina 17.