By now you’ve heard the news.
Yep, ol’ Jake Delhomme is back for another week, and I just can’t figure this one out.
The owner of the Tennessee Titans put in a demand that Vince Young get the start this Sunday for his winless squad, but no one has heard a peep from Carolina Panthers (2-4) owner Jerry Richardson since he gave pink slips to his sons earlier this season.
Does it take a rocket scientist to see that, for the good of the team, and even Delhomme’s own mental state, a change is needed?
The decision by Panthers head coach John Fox to stand by his man this week should have come with a caveat. If the Panthers lose, Fox must look directly into the camera before walking off the field and say these familiar words – “I am not smarter than a fifth grader.”
All jokes aside, Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals (4-2) will be eerily similar to the five previous contests for Carolina this season… every snap of the ball by Delhomme will be drama filled. With a NFL-leading 13 interceptions, it’s not a question of if he will throw a pick, but when.
The Cardinals, who have the leagues’ stingiest run defense, employ an aggressive 3-4 scheme that includes blitzing the quarterback from all angles. Last week that strategy lead to 3 sacks of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who was also responsible for throwing 3 interceptions.
Arizona will look to bring that same pressure and more against Carolina and rattle Delhomme’s cage….again.
I know you haven’t forgotten that fateful day last season when the Nightmare on Mint Street began – Saturday, January 10, 2009.
It was this same Cardinals team that paid a visit to the Qcity and promptly booted the Panthers out of the playoffs 33-13, which was highlighted by Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald running free around Bank of America Stadium for 166 yards and a score.
And it also included a dreadful five interceptions and a lost fumble by Delhomme.
The Cardinals would go on to lose in the Super Bowl, but this season they are flying high, leading the NFC West with their sites set on a return trip to the big game.
The Panthers, on the other hand, have taken a different road that has included an eight-game losing streak (including preseason games), no playoff hopes, a coach whose job is all but gone and a quarterback who’s intent on “going down swinging” — with a few more picks to add to his league leading total. I would add.
Though this game is set up to be a great opportunity for redemption by Carolina and its embattled quarterback, it just won’t happen in Arizona on this Sunday afternoon. For Panther fans, it will be déjà vu all over again…the Cardinals 31 – the Panthers 14.
Damon Ford is a public relations professional who has worked in the public and private sectors in Charlotte. He is 3-3 in predicting Panthers games.