Where’s The Love for Clausen?
If Charlotte was a poker game, Jimmy Clausen would have cashed out immediately. He has been dealt perhaps the worst hand an NFL quarterback could have been dealt and he’s received little to no support. Not from the organization, and certainly not from the fans. He didn’t play well last night and I’ll agree he hasn’t been overly proactive in seeking the city’s affection, but I’ll extend an olive branch of support.
Organizationally, he has simply been the victim of great misfortune. Clausen endured a rookie season on one of the worst professional football teams ever assembled. At least the worst I’ve ever seen on a day in, day out basis. I can only imagine what the fans of Cleveland and Detroit have endured for the last couple decades. If you lined up the 2001 1-15 Panthers against the 2010 2-14 Panthers, the 2001 team would win. You couldn’t even label the 2010 Panthers a “rebuilding” team. They were worse. With a lame duck coach and a lame duck playbook, what the hell can you build on when it’s all going in the fire at season’s end anyway? Jimmy’s rookie year was virtually futile besides the game speed he was able to experience, which was largely attributed to an incredibly pregnable offensive line. I’m sure the game was much faster for him than most rookie QB’s. And let’s not forget the myriad of mediocre receivers to whom he had the privilege to throw, (or not throw depending on how you look at it):
Steve Smith- The exception to mediocrity as a whole but still injured, bitchy, and disgruntled in 2010 which puts him on this list.
Dwayne Jarrett- Lazy deadbeat who was cut after week 4. Career stats with the Panthers: 35 catches, 1 TD in 4 seasons. Wow.
David Clowney- NY Jets sloppy seconds, claimed off waivers to replace Jarrett.
Brandon LaFell- Rookie w/ T-Rex hands.
Armanti Edwards-Rookie, had never played WR before in his LIFE!
Fast forward to 2011 and the Carolina Panthers have won the dubious honor of the 1st pick in the draft. The debate went on for months about who the Panthers should take and Jimmy Clausen got thrown in the wood chipper. It was like a group of catty high school girls who refused to let another girl into their clique. For whatever reason, Panther fans refused to show Clausen the love.
Enter Cam Newton. I’ll admit there was plenty of debate about whether or not Newton’s experience and skill set would translate to the NFL and there are still people who are skeptical. However, many of the same people who refused to make an excuse for Jimmy Clausen started making it rain for Newton. “He’s just a rookie,” “It will take time,” “the lockout,” “Blah, blah, blah.”
A great majority of Panther fans refused to give Jimmy a chance from the day he stepped foot in Charlotte. They didn’t even bother to research his credentials because they didn’t want too. They chose not to. Chose to ignore the 6,894 passing yards, 53 TDs/21 Int’s, 65% completion rate, and an average QB rating of 147 in his last 2 years at Notre Dame. Experience wise, system wise, and numbers wise he was a more qualified NFL prospect than Cam Newton. They chose instead to make him a scapegoat after a difficult season.
That leads us to today, and Jimmy may have played himself into the 3rd string role with his performance last night. His confidence is shot and his body language tells you he has zero command of the team. But its almost hard to blame him when you’re not even allowed to make a mistake. Despite all this, all Jimmy’s done as a Panther is take it like a man, embrace Cam Newton, and act like a pro. Even he wouldn’t gamble on his future right now because he knows that the chance to make a name for himself in the NFL likely won’t happen in Carolina.