Carolina Panthers  


Panthers coach Fox says Delhomme will keep starting job

  • By Associated Press
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jake Delhomme is still Carolina's starter -- even after 11 turnovers in two games.

Coach John Fox defended his beleaguered quarterback Monday, saying his status "hasn't changed" a day after he threw four interceptions and lost a fumble in the Panthers' 38-10 loss to Philadelphia.

Pressured all game and making poor throws and decisions, Delhomme nearly matched his six-turnover performance in Carolina's blowout playoff loss to Arizona in January. His turnovers Sunday led to 24 Eagles points, and Fox pulled Delhomme after he threw consecutive interceptions in the third quarter Sunday.

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In Carolina's last 22 possessions against the Cardinals and Eagles, Delhomme has thrown nine interceptions and lost two fumbles.

Yet, Delhomme will start next week at Atlanta.

"It's like Tiger Woods doesn't win every tournament. (Roger) Federer doesn't win every tournament," Fox said. "There's a lot of people out there that practice and get paid, too."

The Panthers also have few options behind Delhomme, who was booed unmercifully by the home fans Sunday.

Three months after his playoff debacle, the Panthers gave the 34-year-old Delhomme a new five-year, $42.5 million contract. It immediately freed up needed salary-cap space this year, but it also included $20 million in guaranteed money. The Panthers then didn't sign another QB and Delhomme had no serious competition in training camp.

Josh McCown beat out Matt Moore for the No. 2 job, but McCown injured his left knee and ankle in the loss to Philadelphia and has been placed on injured reserve. In response to the news, the Panthers came to terms with veteran quarterback A.J. Feeley to backup Delhomme.

Fox said he hadn't talked individually with Delhomme on Monday. Players were at Bank of America Stadium to watch the film of an ugly beginning for the defending NFC South champions.

After leading Carolina to a touchdown drive on the first possession, Delhomme was overwhelmed by the Eagles' relentless blitzing. Fox fingered the offensive line for giving him poor protection.

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He even hinted they may not have been conservative enough. Calling draw plays on third down has been a common criticism of Fox in his eight years in Carolina.

"It's not just Jake. We just didn't execute very well in the passing game," Fox said. "A couple of those third-and-longs I wish we had run our patented draw instead of screens. Because that resulted in two touchdowns, one sack fumble and one interception."

Delhomme clearly faces one of the most difficult weeks of his career. After going from an unknown backup in New Orleans to leading Carolina to a Super Bowl appearance in 2003, fans have had a love-hate relationship with Delhomme.

He's played in two NFC Championship Games, was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2005 and has led 12 game-winning drives in the final 2 minutes or overtime.

But Delhomme has had his share of clunkers, too -- only nothing compares to the past two games.

"People on the outside can make big deals out of it. They've made big deals out of it before," Fox said. "You expect it. It's how you respond inside that room that's key."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press


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