CHARLOTTE -- Jake Delhomme rarely has been worse.
So, there may not be a better time to say it.
Not only is he the right guy for the Carolina Panthers, he's nearly perfect for the situation, the time and the rest of the people around him.
Delhomme was bad, historically so, Sunday in Tampa. He threw three interceptions, and it should have been six. While you could lay whatever percentage of the blame on him, chances are, it's lower than that which he's already placed on himself.
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Part of what makes him so right with the Panthers, such a fit for the entire organization, is the extreme accountability he puts on himself. He's never blamed a teammate, even though some have done it to him.
"He'll tell you differently, but I wouldn't tell you he struggled, particularly," left tackle Jordan Gross said of Delhomme's three-pick day. "A lot of those picks bounced off our guys, and into the hands of the defensive guys. ... Any good leader does that, Jake especially. He'll take credit for every pick he threw, I'm sure. But there's 11 guys out there, not just one. ...
"But he's the same guy when we lose like that or win like last week. So, he's going to be fine."
Tales of Delhomme's resilience are legendary.
It was funny watching him dance around questions about his New Orleans days. Half a decade of waiting never paid off, but he never griped. Even when his old coach said he screwed up by not turning to him in 2002, Delhomme took no joy in the admission.
"You know what? I think that's something as a head coach, you learn, as a quarterback hopefully you learn from mistakes," he said Monday. "Hopefully, I learned from some of the things I did yesterday."
When he was facing Tommy John surgery, he approached his rehab with factory worker's mentality. Show up, punch the clock, work hard, go home, do it again the next day.
When he's been involved in contract negotiations, whether it was his first one with the Panthers or the big-money extension that followed, he never sweated, swore or stomped his foot.
"He always let whatever happened happen," said Delhomme's longtime agent, Rick Smith. "He's always the same. He's very real. He's never let anything go to his head. He's the most even-keeled guy I know."
You have to be, around this place.
If there's anything consistent about the Carolina Panthers, it's the inconsistency. They've had chances to put themselves in comfortable division leads before, and they've managed to foul them up.
At the same time, when things have looked hopeless, they've pushed through.
A lot of that has to do with the guy who was never supposed to be much of a quarterback, never supposed to be able to play in college, much less the pros.
And all he does is win. Since 2003, despite missing 16 games with injuries, he's posted a 41-28 record. Throw in his 5-2 playoff record, and he's got a .657 winning percentage. By the way, he's the third-highest rated playoff quarterback ever (behind Joe Montana and Bart Starr), and his four road playoff wins are tied for the most in NFL history (with Roger Staubach and Len Dawson).
Through it all, he's hardly been appreciated for his contributions, which transcend numbers.
Just as he's never going to look good throwing the ball, he's never going to look very good compared to some of the game's stat hounds. There was once a time when folks thought St. Louis' Marc Bulger was better, and seriously, do you think that holds now?
Comparisons to others will never do him justice. He's been to a Pro Bowl, deserved a couple more, but won't ever be a regular vacationer in Hawaii.
He won't even be able to escape the loons who want to give his job away in Charlotte, whether it's to Chris Weinke, David Carr or now Josh McCown.
That's fine with him.
All he's ever wanted was his chance, an opportunity to bet on himself, and he likes his chances. He played with a maturity beyond his experience when he took over for the Panthers, and he still astounds with his thoroughly adult perspective on the game.
"You've got to find the even keel," Delhomme said of handling losses like last week's. "When you do well in this league, the sun shines so bright, and it's, 'Everybody's so good, you're doing this so well.' When you lose, 'Oh, the sky is falling.'
"It hurts, it better hurt. If it doesn't hurt, it's not important to you. You have to learn and move on from it."
Make no mistake that it hurt him, more than you know. Make no mistake, it's important to him.
By the same logic, you know he's learned from it already and will move on.
And the Panthers, as they have been for six years, will be better for it.