12/24/09 — Panthers' Moore making a statement

View Archive

Panthers' Moore making a statement

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on December 24, 2009 9:47 AM

Whether I was trying to convince myself to try out for a particular sport in school or attempting to muster up the courage to ask out a girl, my parents were always there with one constant piece of advice when I was growing up -- you never know until you try.

The same advice applies to the Carolina Panthers following Matt Moore's performance in a 26-7 victory over playoff-bound Minnesota on Sunday night. Stuck on Carolina's depth chart behind starter Jake Delhomme since signing as a free agent in 2007, Moore had made just five career starts before facing Minnesota.

Moore completed 21 of 33 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns against the Vikings. Equally important was the fact that Moore didn't throw an interception.

It was an effort worthy of earning Moore the opportunity to compete for the Panthers' starting quarterback job next season regardless of who else is in training camp.

Despite one solid outing, Moore is definitely still a work in progress. The former UCLA and Oregon State quarterback struggled early against the Vikings, under throwing or throwing behind receivers while having several passes sail on him.

After settling down, Moore demonstrated the ability to side step pass rushers and throw on the run. Mobility has never been an asset Delhomme has displayed with regularity.

Moore outplayed Brett Favre on prime time television including a fourth quarter in which the Panthers outscored the Vikings 20-0. He also completed passes of 55, 45 and 42 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith.

In six career starts, including the last three games of the 2007 season and Weeks 13-15 in 2009, Moore has compiled a 4-2 record as a starter. Five of his six starts have come against teams that were leading their division at the time of the game with the exception being Tampa Bay on Dec. 6.

In those six starts, Moore has completed 99-of-162 passes for 1,221 yards and seven touchdowns with just interceptions. Those numbers generated a 91.1 quarterback rating.

Finding a second receiver to compliment Smith or locking up Julius Peppers to a multi-year deal without having to throw an abundance of money at a quarterback in free agency, or trading for one, could be huge for Carolina. The Panthers don't have a first-round draft pick in 2010.

Carolina signed Delhomme to a five-year, $42.5 million contract extension in the offseason that includes $20 million in guaranteed money. Delhomme has thrown double-digit interceptions in six of the seven seasons he's been in Carolina. His 18 picks this year are a career high and he's thrown two or more interceptions five times this season.

Moore isn't the second coming of Joe Montana and he may ultimately never be the long-term solution at quarterback for the Carolina Panthers.

Then again, you never know until you try.