CHARLOTTE — Carolina Panthers coach John Fox wouldn’t say Monday whether he’d stick with quarterback Jake Delhomme this week or not, but insisted he needed to see improvement from his passing game.
“We’ll do whatever it takes to develop some confidence in that phase of the game,” Fox said, adding: “We need to do what helps us win. If that’s Jake he understands and if that’s not Jake he understands.”
Fox cited “competitive reasons” for not announcing his starter for Sunday’s game at Arizona, but downplayed the symbolism of the opponent — considering the Cardinals started Delhomme’s nightmare slide.
“I don’t know much voodoo I put into this,” Fox said.
The 34-year-old quarterback threw three more interceptions in Sunday’s loss to Buffalo, giving him a league-high 13 on the season. He’s also lost a pair of fumbles, giving him 15 of the Panthers’ league-high 21 turnovers.
While that’s impossible to justify statistically, Fox said there’s still a belief that Delhomme gives the team the best chance to win. He’s posted a 56-37 record in his career as the starter.
“I still believe Jake is our best quarterback,” Fox said. “I have no reason to believe otherwise.”
The apparent inevitable nature of a move had players talking Sunday night, with Delhomme still receiving universal support among his teammates.
“I went up to him at the end there,” left tackle Jordan Gross said. “I said ‘He’s our guy.’ He’s won too many games here. We’ve been down the road of the quarterback shuffle a few years ago and that didn’t work out too well. There’s a lot of time to evaluate quarterbacks, from the spring all the way through camp. It’s not like there’s some magic hidden gem. I’ve got faith in our backups, but that seems like a break glass, pull handle type of thing to do that.
“It’s not my call. But Jake’s my guy. I have faith in him.”
That extended to the other side of the ball, even though Delhomme’s picks have put the defense in some precarious spots.
“Do I still trust him? Absolutely,” linebacker Jon Beason. “At the end of the day, I’d like to think my teammates trust me, and the reason they trust me is because of what I have done. And the reason we trust Jake is because of what he has done. So at the end of the day, people have bad days, but you have to go back and evaluate the film. And that’s going to be the true answer to the question and our problems.”