No decision on Delhomme, Fox says
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- For the first time in seven years, Jake Delhomme is in jeopardy of losing his starting job.
After another abysmal performance Sunday left Carolina 2-4 and Delhomme with an NFL-high 13 interceptions, Panthers coach John Fox acknowledged he's contemplating benching Delhomme in favor of either Matt Moore or A.J. Feeley.
"I still believe Jake is our best quarterback. I have no reason to believe otherwise, truth be told," Fox said Monday. "But collectively we'll do whatever it takes for us to improve. What that is I can't honestly tell you at this second."
A day earlier, Delhomme threw three interceptions, two which were badly overthrown and directly led to 14 Buffalo points in the Bills' 20-9 win.
The 34-year-old Delhomme, who received a lucrative contract extension in the offseason, can't seem to snap out of the worst stretch of his career.
It began when Delhomme threw five interceptions and lost a fumble against Arizona in the playoffs. Counting two lost fumbles this season, Delhomme has committed 15 turnovers and thrown only four touchdowns. His passer rating of 56.5 ranks 32nd in the league and Carolina's minus-14 turnover margin is by far the worst in the NFL.
Sunday's loss ended Carolina's two-game winning streak and left Delhomme seemingly stunned. He said he was "numb" and added it was a "crushing" loss after Carolina outgained Buffalo 425-167.
"Last night I was numb and right now, you watch the film -- I've watched it three times already today -- I think it's more frustration," Delhomme said Monday.
Delhomme stood in front of his locker with Arizona game tape under his arm vowing to prepare to start as always. He said he met earlier in the day with the Fox, but declined to reveal details.
"I think my confidence is high, but it's easy to say it," Delhomme said. "You've got to get it done. ... I'm not trying to play the victim. I'm the one pulling the trigger."
While Fox said he sees no difference in Delhomme's arm strength or delivery, he hinted Delhomme's psyche will play into his decision who starts in Sunday's playoff rematch with the Cardinals.
"We'll do whatever it takes for us to start developing some confidence in that phase of the game," Fox said.
Trouble is, the Panthers have few good options behind Delhomme, who has been Carolina's starter since Week 2 in 2003, when the relative unknown led the Panthers to a surprising trip to the Super Bowl.
Moore started three games as an undrafted rookie in 2007 when Delhomme was recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery. Moore's only appearance since was when he completed 6 of 11 passes for 63 yards and an interception after Delhomme was benched late in the season opener against Philadelphia.
"I feel ready if needed," Moore said. "But I think we're 100 percent behind Jake."
The Panthers signed the journeyman Feeley on Sept. 15 after Josh McCown was placed on injured reserve with knee and ankle injuries. Feeley has since been scrambling to learn the offense.
"Do I think I can go out there and manage the game and play? Yeah," Feeley said. "Do I have a grasp of the offense like the other guys? Obviously that's not the case."
Delhomme still has the support of several teammates. Many came to his defense, including left tackle Jordan Gross, who is opposed to a QB change.
"I've got faith in our backups, but that seems like a break-glass, pull-handle type of thing to do that," Gross said.
Fox has remained firmly behind Delhomme in the past. As recently as a month ago he was asked if Delhomme was still the starter and replied, "Yes, with a capital Y."
Now Fox's tune has changed, and he brushed off questions Monday about keeping Delhomme twisting before deciding on his future.
"I think we need to do what's going to help us win," Fox said. "If that's Jake, I think he'll understand that. If it's not Jake, I think he'll understand that, too. Right now we're not executing as well in the passing game. I can't say it's all the quarterback. But we have to get that better."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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