Regardless whether or not Panthers coach John Fox already knows if he’s benching veteran QB Jake Delhomme, we’re not likely to find out soon, judging by Monday’s news conference. It’s a decision that Fox likely will make later in the week after breaking down the tape and meeting with his staff, but he was vague enough in his comments that which way he’s leaning is still a mystery.
Either way, Fox’s decision can’t be an easy one, given both Delhomme’s status as the NFL leader in interceptions and his tenure as the Panthers’ starter since early in the 2003 season.
NFL Network’s Mike Martz knows a thing or two about Fox’s dilemma, having gone through a similar situation with his own veteran, Kurt Warner, as head coach of the Rams. Martz offered some insight into Fox’s decision-making process.
“There’s a loyalty between John Fox and Jake Delhomme that people need to understand,” Martz said. “This is a guy in Delhomme who took the Panthers to the Super Bowl, has been in the Pro Bowl and played at a high level. I think the first thing they need to look at is what’s happened to Delhomme, why these turnovers are happening and look at it from a very analytical standpoint — make sure Delhomme is the problem.
“If you look at it over the long haul — and I’m not just talking about one or two games but the whole season — and these issues keep coming surfacing, then perhaps it is time to make a change. But if you keep seeing other issues that are involved that are out of Delhomme’s control, you need to change what you’re doing and go with him.”
And that’s the looming question for Fox to decipher — how much of this is on Delhomme? Once that’s decided, what are Fox’s real options?
“I do know this: Turnovers will demoralize a team faster than anything else and change momentum,” Martz said. “Right now this is a huge issue for the Panthers. If these turnovers are because it’s a disconnect with someone, or problems with protection, or he’s just making bad decisions, all of these things have to be looked at closely.”