As bad as he was, and as bad as he’s been, Jake Delhomme remains the Carolina Panthers’ guy.
Despite his five turnover abomination in Sunday’s 38-10 loss to Philadelphia — and despite the fact it followed his six-turnover melt-down in the playoffs — the Panthers are standing firm behind him as their starting quarterback.
“Obviously we start back there with Jake,” Panthers coach John Fox said when asked who’d start next week at Atlanta. “We’ve got to evaluate what happened back there, but personally I don’t think it was all Jake’s fault.”
Make no mistake, it was mostly Delhomme.
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He completed 7-of-17 passes for 73 yards and four interceptions, and also fumbled which led to an immediate Eagles touchdown.
It was eerily reminiscent — no identical —to his five-pick and a fumble against Arizona in the last real game played at Bank of America Stadium during last year’s playoffs.
“It’s frustrating, but not because of the Arizona thing,” Delhomme said. “It’s frustrating today.”
Delhomme said he agreed with the third quarter decision by Fox to bench him.
The news kept getting worse for the Panthers, when backup Josh McCown suffered left knee and foot injuries. He was in pain as he was taken from the field on a cart, and doesn’t look like a guy who’s going to be ready to play next week in Atlanta.
Third quarterback Matt Moore finished the game, drawing a sarcastic cheer from the crowd which turned on Delhomme early.
Nearly every player asked said they still trust Delhomme, despite his back-to-back bombs.
“Yeah, I do,” said wide receiver Steve Smith, who caught three passes for 21 yards. “I personally trust him. Our relationship goes beyond the field. ... What he needs more than teammates is real friendship right now.”
The reality is, he’s here for at least two more years and likely three after he signed a five-year contract extension this offseason. While Moore’s shown flashes, he’s done not much to indicate he’s the quarterback of the future here, and they don’t know yet whether McCown’s going to be well enough to play anytime soon.
Delhomme was asked if his heir was here already, and he answered straightforwardly.
“The best way to answer that is, I hope not,” he said. “I don’t mean that against anyone else. That’s just me.”