OK, I'm back in town, although it feels a lot less like Charlotte with the big JFG sign coming down. Red-eye flight, a couple hours of sleep and two big cups of coffee (JFG from home, poured some on the curb), and I'm ready to go. Fox isn't talking to us until 2:30 p.m., so here are some odds and ends leftovers from the game:
-- It's a great day to be QB Jake Delhomme, mostly because he's upright. Just saw him as I was walking in and he was walking out of the stadium. He's sore, but nothing out of the ordinary. He said the biggest problem was that he was jumping and trying to throw to Brad Hoover in traffic, and with his arms raised, his ribs were exposed. So when Chike Okeafor hit him from one side and Darnell Dockett from the other, he was mashed between them. There was some initial worry that there might be internal injuries, but he checked out OK.
"Look at that," he said pointing up in the air and laughing. "Sun's shining. Sky's blue."
-- Checking in with the truth and fairness department: Delhomme had a good game, and there's no doubt getting Rip Scherer to pack his bags and move out of his head helped a little.
But to lay his earlier performances at the coach's feet would be a red herring. Kind of like attributing Julius Peppers' improved play to the dinner he never had with Jon Beason.
-- As good a day as he had, there is a reality underlying the Panthers passing game. Against New Orleans, you're probably going to have to complete a pass in the second half.
That's right, the Panthers were 0-for-6 passing after halftime. Helps being up 28-7 at the break and running for 270, but there are still strides to be made.
-- FS Charles Godfrey didn't want to talk to reporters last week about his injured ankle. He's not going to have to worry about us at all pretty soon.
Sherrod Martin made more plays in his first game as a starter than Godfrey has in a year and a half. Ordinarily, you'd say a guy doesn't lose his starting job because of injury, but Fox is known as a guy who'll ride the hot hand (even if that hand belongs to Vinny Testaverde).
Martin's a rangier player, better speed, and made plays on the ball. So explain to me why Godfrey starts?
-- Don't like to the looks of things for FB Brad Hoover. Finally got his back straightened out, and then his ankle gives. With backup Tony Fiammetta getting a concussion, they're going to have to find at least a practice squad guy and maybe more. The fact they're down a TE until Dante Rosario comes back makes this a bigger need.
-- It ain't my money, but if you're going to give somebody a million bucks per game, you might as well get a game like Peppers produced.
Whatever the reason, he's on now, and playing the way he's always been capable of playing. Yesterday was one of those "can't block him" days. Even when he didn't get a stat, he affected the game. Made Kurt Warner move, and that's not his strong suit.
Makes you wonder if he wants to stay now?
-- How bad does the Buffalo loss hurt now? If you're 4-3 and coming off the Arizona game, you have reason to think you're a contender. At 3-4, you might be too far back, with too much traffic between you and the front.
-- Are they any good? Call me in a week. I'll be better able to let you know then.