Sports

Don't get sucked in to Moore hysteria

CHARLOTTE

There's a segment of the Carolina Panthers fan base that will accept nothing less than Matt Moore as the starting quarterback going into 2010.

But for the sake of many - including Moore - it ought to be a little more complex than that.

The reality many don't want to accept is that this deal is complicated, and making a swift reaction right now is the last thing anyone needs.

What's happening right now with Moore under center should have some bearing on what happens in 2010, but it should not be the only part of making a decision. That's the way it should be, anyway, for the benefit of those involved, if you are hoping for a wise decision to be made.

Moore has shown the ability to move the ball downfield and move the pocket. He has gotten steadily better, as his past five quarters were a far cry from his first 11 as starter. Progress is good.

What he has yet to do, however, is lead a comeback, or play a game that includes anything resembling pressure, or be game-planned against.

How quarterbacks respond to those situations determine their long-term success.

Because of the way fans have responded lately, it is worth pointing out that long-term decisions are the kinds these guys worry about first. It is part of why Panthers coach John Fox is not going anywhere.

It's why Jake Delhomme should get a chance to hang around to see if he can fix himself. It's also why Moore deserves the benefit of competition.

People tend to forget that Moore has been succeeding for a far shorter time than Delhomme has been struggling - but also that Delhomme has been struggling for a far shorter time than he has been succeeding. Somewhere along the way, today became a referendum on forever, and that's fun but not the basis for sound decisions.

Given that Fox has enjoyed the majority of his success with Delhomme under center, it is natural he's going to lean that way.

"Fear of the unknown," was one Panthers player's reply when asked why Fox was so slow on the trigger this year.

He was absolutely right.

Anyone who saw the Moore of the past five quarters coming down the tracks in August, please contact me in regards to investment opportunities at the track.

Anyone who saw Delhomme turning into a complete and utter pumpkin back in August is lying to themselves.

That's why the Panthers ought to wait.

Wait to see if Moore develops a little bit and takes a firm grip on the proceedings. Wait to see how Moore responds to adversity. Wait to see if Delhomme gets his head back together and looks like the passer of 2003-08, instead of the ridiculous 2009 version.

Call it sentimental if you want, but Delhomme is still a career 82.1-rating quarterback, and that is in the top 40 of the NFL's all-time list. As much as he hurt your feelings, it is foolish to roll those guys out to the curb with your garbage, because there aren't that many of them.

As much as you love Moore at the moment, it might be wise to slow down before anointing him.

I'd suggest the same with whatever young guy they find in the draft, or whomever arrives in free agency, assuming there will be one new name on the training camp depth chart. If it's a draft pick, he will immediately become the darling, perhaps even stealing some of the shine off Moore.

There's also the small matter of finding non-quarterback parts to go with whichever quarterback they choose, because they need at least two or three of those.

None of these decisions can or should be made at the moment, however.

They are the kinds of calls that can only properly be made with time, and that's what the participants in this debate need the most.

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