I was pleased to be joined by Jaxon from Cat Scratch Reader, our Carolina Panthers affiliate, to preview Sunday's game. Jaxon talks about the play of rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen, how Carolina fans have handled a 1-9 season, whether the Panthers are as bad defensively as their record might indicate, and more.
Chris: "None of the Panthers' quarterbacks have done well this year, but we're most interested in hearing about Jimmy Clausen in particular. Has he shown any promise in Carolina's offense, or has he just looked like a struggling rookie?"
Jaxon: "The jury is still out on Clausen for the most part. He has been a model rookie off the field essentially debunking his prima donna stereotype. His positives are he plays with composure and does a good job of getting rid of the ball when under pressure. Actually he does that to a fault and doesn’t take a lot of shots downfield. He also doesn’t move his feet in the pocket resulting in a lot of batted passes. He has shown some of the accuracy he was touted for so if he can get time to throw he will start hitting more vertical stuff versus all the sideway passes he throws now."
Chris: "Your team will likely be facing former Panther quarterback Jake Delhomme this Sunday. Despite Delhomme's struggles last season, would it have been worth it for Carolina to give Delhomme another shot this season?"
Jaxon: "I was adamant it was a good move the entire offseason even though we are still paying Jake; nicely I might add ($12M). But now sitting at 1-9 and being faced with these QB options: two rookies and two young cast offs from other teams it’s hard to say I wouldn’t want Delhomme to be starting instead. The reality is we gambled on Matt Moore and then after having Clausen fall to us we thought we had enough to be competitive. I doesn’t appear to have been a smart move releasing Delhomme but then again how many more games would the Panthers really have won? A couple maybe?"
Chris: "It can't be easy going through games with less superior offensive talent at times, such as a street quarterback (Brian St. Pierre), fourth-string running backs, etc. How has the Carolina fanbase responded to the Panthers' terrible season offensively?"
Jaxon: "Most of us have already traversed the four stages of grief: disbelief, anger, depression and now ‘hand me another beer’. I’m already mentally prepared for 1-15 but am heartened by the notion of having the #1 pick. The thought of Carolina finally getting a franchise QB is very tempting no matter how well Clausen performs the remainder of the year. Once the season is over it will make the decision to release Delhomme seem necessary."
Chris: "As bad as Carolina is offensively, their defense doesn't seem so bad. Statistically, they are much better at defending the pass than they are the run. Does that accurately describe the Panthers' defense, or are the statistics deceiving (i.e. are both units terrible)?"
Jaxon: "The defense is not as bad as their stats. They spend a lot of time on the field and have been put in bad spots by the offense all too often. The run defense played better earlier in the season but has been gashed lately. So obviously Hillis is a big concern. The Panther defense will be keyed on stopping him early so Delhomme will need to test the Panthers secondary with a few deep balls. Our safeties are young but athletic but also error-prone."
Chris: "Outside of a win over San Francisco and a close loss to New Orleans earlier this season, the Panthers haven't been too competitive this year. What was different in those two games than all of the other games Carolina has played?"
Jaxon: "We were able to throw the ball in the win over the 49ers and ran the ball on the Saints combined with some good D. You’re right though, most the games the Panthers have been down at halftime and things just got worse in the 2nd half. We’ve had a lot of injuries though so that’s been a big part of the nine losses."
Once again, I'd like to thank Jaxon for taking the time to answer these questions.