|COLUMN: Barring injury, expect Matt Moore to be Carolina's starting QB in 2010|
|Written by Steve Reed|
|Tuesday, 11 May 2010 10:39|
CHARLOTTE – How do you bench a quarterback who won four of five games down the stretch last season and played so well he prompted management to release a seven-year starter?|
Quite simply, you don’t.
While there’s plenty speculation nationally that there will be an “open competition” for the Carolina Panthers starting quarterback job this summer between Matt Moore and second-round draft pick Jimmy Clausen, I'm not buying it. Nor should you.
While the No. 2 Clausen jerseys are the hot item in sporting goods stores in the Charlotte area, the reality is that barring an unforeseen injury or a complete mental meltdown during the preseason, Moore is your starter going into the 2010 season and will remain that way providing he plays well.
And deservedly so.
Moore has earned that opportunity by winning six of the eight games he’s started for the Panthers (2-1 in 2007 and 4-1 in 2009). His quarterback rating in the final five games of last season was the second-highest in the league. It’s time to find out if he can be a franchise quarterback, a guy you want to sign to a long-term contract. Clausen, meanwhile, has plenty of time to learn and develop and there’s no sense throwing him out there right away. This is Moore's time.
Do you really think coach John Fox will bench Moore for the season opener against the New York Giants, especially after Moore led the team to a 41-9 win in the Meadowlands last December?
Now, that said, Moore can't just show up.
If he gets off to a rocky start this year it’s conceivable the Panthers turn to Clausen, who’ll be more ready to play than most rookies considering he’s worked in this same offensive scheme the last three years at Notre Dame. The mental transition from college to the pros shouldn’t be a tough one given his main focus will be grasping the different verbiage in offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson’s playbook. Everything else should be second nature. His biggest challenge will be adjusting to the speed of the game and learning to decipher various NFL defenses, which can take some time.
It’s pretty clear Moore views himself as the starter and, given he’s worked three years to get this opportunity, he’s not exactly eager to give it up even if some are already hyping Clausen's arrival.
“I knew something had to happen,” Moore said of the team’s decision to draft Clausen after he fell to the Panthers at No. 48. “I really didn't think much of it. It's kind of the way everything shook out. He was a pretty good guy and he was available and that's the way they went."
When asked if he’s concerned about having Clausen breathing down his neck, Moore shrugged and said, “No, I've been in nearly every possible situation since I've been here. I'm not concerned. Everything is going to come down performing on the field.”
Clausen is young, brash and confident.
The day he was drafted by the Panthers he told reporters his goal was to be the starting quarterback “from day one.”
If "day one" was rookie minicamp, that didn't happen. Clausen opened the three-day camp third on the depth chart behind Moore and Hunter Cantwell, although it's a safe bet Clausen will pass Cantwell as some point given the investment the team has made in him.
For now, Moore is focused on the task ahead, which is getting prepared for the regular season.
He knows this is his chance to make it big entering his contract year. Moore will earn slightly more than $3 million this year, but will be an unrestricted free agent after the season and could hit it big -- either here or somewhere else -- if he capitalizes on this golden opportunity.
“I try not to make it different,” Moore said of entering this season as the Panthers No. 1 quarterback for the first time in his career following the departure of Jake Delhomme. “It's exciting. It's a lot of work and there's going to be a lot of work ahead. Really, everything I did last year, everything the team did last year, we just need to build on that and work on that.
“Whatever my role is in that, that's what I have to do, if that makes any sense. But I'm excited and ready to work.”