Jimmy Clausen is the new face of the Carolina Panthers, and not everyone in Carolina is happy about it. Certainly the majority feel that the rookie’s time is now, but it is far from a universally accepted decision. Some fans feel like throwing Clausen out there is not a good long term strategy. For every Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan, there are twice as many first year flame-outs that never recover from being put under center too soon. For better or for worse, Clausen is taking over for the Panthers and Matt Moore is heading to the bench where he is very familiar.
On paper, the move makes perfect sense. Matt Moore turned the ball over six times in only two games and had several mental errors that showed he was out of his element. Clausen has played about the equivalent of a quarter this season, and showed an ability to move the offense that was expected to be run heavy when the season began. While the vaunted rushing attack of the last couple of years has shown flashes of brilliance so far this season, it has been a shadow of what it was even one year ago. This is mostly because the Panthers have played catch up during the second half of games, and forced to go with the passing game.
This is the biggest reason why the Panthers feel that Clausen can step in and have success. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are sure to improve as the season goes on. They are among the most talented running backs in the entire NFL, and they showed this by being the first two teammates in NFL history to rush for over 1100 yards each in a single season last year. That kind of running game is the best friend a young quarterback can have. The offensive line is also widely respected as one of the best, though they are still waiting on tackle Jeff Otah to return from injury. All in all, Jimmy Clausen has plenty of reasons to expect success this season.
In fact, Clausen might be the best suited to find long term success of all the 2010 draft picks. The Panthers have handled him well and placed him in a position to have some positive experiences this season. Waiting to insert him after a couple of games allowed him to have a dimmer spotlight, while watching the game from the sidelines and feeling out the process of game day.
Here is a look at how his situation compares to the other quarterbacks in his draft class:
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
Bradford seemed destined for the starting lineup from the day that his name was called as the number one pick of the draft. The Rams inserted him in the starting lineup right away. Because of this, Bradford has had a whole lot more pressure on his shoulders. To his credit, he has handled the pressure well and all indications are that he is exactly the quarterback the Rams had hoped for.
Over two games, Bradford has thrown for four touchdowns and three interceptions. What those numbers do not show is that the Rams were in position to win both games right down to the end. Many of his interceptions have been due to things outside of his control, such as being forced to throw into coverage at the end of the game. Bradford has shown he is a player that will compete, and he has a swagger that belies his young age.
Bradford, like Clausen, has a solid running game to help him along. Running back Stephen Jackson is a great complement to Bradford’s strong arm, and play action passes should be available as the season wears on. The Rams are also dedicated to Bradford for the long term, as his contract clearly shows.
Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos
Tebow is one of the toughest to understand of all the draft picks. His talent was clearly on display in the preseason, and the Broncos seem to be looking to use his talents in various ways. Tebow is one of the better runners among the quarterbacks, and will likely be used in the Wildcat formation this season. What is good about Tebow’s situation is that he is watching from the sidelines for a bit. Tebow has great potential to be a sleeper from this year’s draft, but his true value will be down the line.
Colt McCoy, Cleveland Browns
Colt is really in a tough situation down in Cleveland. The Browns have not had the best track record when it comes to cultivating young quarterbacks. The reason? They won’t commit to a quarterback early or late. Just take a look at the revolving door in Cleveland the last several years. Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson and others have all taken quick shifts at the helm of the Browns offense with little to no success. The biggest reason for the lack of success is that the Browns never give a quarterback a vote of confidence for very long. This is scary for a young quarterback like McCoy. Also, they do not seem overly interested in working McCoy into the mix. Instead, Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme are the quick fix quarterbacks of the moment. The future is uncertain for McCoy as of right now, but maybe they will commit to him in the future.
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