Monday, March 14, 2011

Carolina Panthers: In Jimmy Clausen I Trust

With the 2011 NFL Draft inching ever so close and the lockout looming larger as the days go by, the Carolina Panthers need to decide which direction they want to go.
On one hand, they pick up a defensive end and try to improve a defense that gave up almost 340 yards per game (335.9) including 123.8 yards per game on the ground.

On the other hand, there's a quarterback situation that seems to be a thorn in their side just begging to be plucked out by a pair of tweezers. They have former Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen but that hasn't stopped the rumors the team is ready to move in another direction.

The guys they have behind Clausen don't have much in the way of experience. Besides Matt Moore who's will be going into his sixth year in the league, the Panthers have three years from Keith Null, two from former Cincinnati Bearcat Tony Pike, and nine from their most tenured quarterback, Brian St. Pierre.

There's no reason to to blame Clausen for the team's troubles last season nor am I going to blame Moore who was the team's original starter last season.

I am, however, going to blame an offensive line who seemed to forget how to block on most plays and it ended up landing both quarterbacks on the concussion list.

While neither Moore nor Clausen made any head way for the Panthers last season, I for one am not ready to give up on Clausen as their quarterback of the future.

There's no question when some fans look at a guy like Cam Newton and think of the possibilities, it seems to bring a smile to the faces of most NFL fans. Notice I said 'most' not all. I know better than that.

But why give up on a quarterback who really hasn't had the chance to prove himself? Why not give him another chance to show why the Panthers drafted him in the first place?

The only thing that most would come up with is Clausen's ineffectiveness. While that might be true, how many rookie quarterbacks really make any mark at all on his team or the league for that matter? I'd argue not very many, though Denver's Tim Tebow and St. Louis' Sam Bradford seem to be the exception to the rule.

Jimmy Clausen is going to be just fine. The Carolina Panthers have more to fix than at quarterback. Give the young quarterback time to develop and learn the system.

If you give up on him now, there's no getting him back.

Follow Todd Kaufmann @T_Kaufmann and National Football Authority @NFAuthority on Twitter

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