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Coaches put faith in Moore, leading to Jake's departure

The lessons of history and a desire to prevent teammates from having divided loyalties between quarterbacks Matt Moore and Jake Delhomme led the Carolina Panthers to take the painful step of releasing Delhomme earlier this month, according to coach John Fox.

Fox made it clear earlier this week at the NFL meetings in Orlando, Fla., that the decision "absolutely had nothing to do" with concerns that problems might develop between the two quarterbacks if Delhomme, a seven-year starter, suddenly were backing up Moore, who went 4-1 as the starter late last season after Delhomme was sidelined by a broken knuckle.

Fox said "it's pretty unprecedented" in the NFL to have a long-time starter suddenly playing behind a much less experienced quarterback because of how it could affect the rest of the players in the locker room.

"When you've been loyal to a guy for (seven) years and you've got to show support for the (new) guy who's starting, it's hard to remaining in that situation after (seven) years of loyalty," said Fox.

"Like Jordan Gross at left tackle, it makes them feel awkward. I'm not sure if Green Bay had gone with Aaron Rodgers that it would've been great for Brett (Favre) to be the backup. Not to say it can't be done, it just hasn't been done very often or very much.

"It's just that for the rest of your football team, it gets a little discomforting."

Two years ago, the Packers traded Favre after deciding to elevate Rodgers, a former first-round pick, into the starting role.

Fox said he believes Moore is ready to handle the job.

"I'm definitely confident," said Fox. "You don't make a decision like that if you don't have confidence in Matt. ... Late in the season, the last three games, he was playing as well as any quarterback in the league.

"He is young. He's got a lot of physical tools. I like his mindset. I saw him improve. ... He had about a 93 quarterback rating. We had hovered around 59 most of the season. That gave us a chance to win games and hopefully he can do that moving forward."

Delhomme, who recently signed a two-year contract as the likely new starter in Cleveland, suffered through a career-worst season in 2009, throwing 18 interceptions and going 4-7 as a starter.

His performance followed a six-turnover outing in a January 2009 home playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Though Delhomme continued to have plenty of devoted fans in Charlotte, there also arose a strong anti-Delhomme contingent among the Panthers' fan base which Fox admitted complicated the situation, both last season and potentially going forward if Carolina had decided to keep Delhomme.

"As you work through a tough time, whether you're a head coach, the organization or a quarterback, you can weather (it) and toughen yourself as hard as you want and handle it as best you can, but it would be hard to convince most people that that doesn't affect you, whether it's the fans booing or whatever," said Fox.

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