Saints still unbeatable

For the second week in a row, a division rival walked into the Superdome and punched the Saints in the mouth in the first half. Just as the Falcons did on Monday night earlier in the week, the Panthers took a 17-6 lead into halftime on Sunday and looked to have the Saints on the ropes.

But the Saints never packed down, didn’t beat themselves and once again came away with a victory.

Drew Brees completed 24-of-35 passes for 330 yards, one touchdown and one interception to lead New Orleans past the Panthers, 30-20. As usual, Brees was calm and cool despite some early mistakes that cost his team and he spread the ball around to take advantage of holes in Carolina’s stingy secondary.

These past two wins for the Saints are perhaps more impressive than any in previous weeks. It’s not a shock that Atlanta and Carolina hung with New Orleans on its home turf, because the Falcons and Panthers are familiar with the Saints and Sean Payton’s tendencies. Yet in the end, the Saints proved to be the better team on both sides of the ball and it’s no surprise that they’re running away with the NFC South. (Not to mention the top seed in the NFC.)

There are two more games on the Saints schedule that I’m interested to see how they respond in: Home against the Patriots in Week 12 and at Atlanta in Week 14. Can New Orleans beat (one of) the best the AFC has to offer? And if the Falcons keep things somewhat close in the division, can New Orleans go into Atlanta and beat a good division rival on the road? As of right now, I’ll say an unwavering “yes” to both.

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Fox taking a huge risk sticking with Delhomme

For the past couple days, I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out why in the world the Panthers would stick with Jake Delhomme at quarterback.

To say that Delhomme has struggled this year would be a gross understatement. He is 2-4 as a starter, is leading the league in interceptions and has somehow found a way to make explosive receiver Steve Smith non-existent. So why stick with him instead of giving A.J. Feeley or Matt Moore an opportunity?

One reason is because the Panthers have so much money invested in Delhomme after they signed him to a five-year, $42.5 million extension in April. They thought Delhomme would shake off his brutal performance in last year’s playoffs and at the very least, be able to turn around and hand the ball off to DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.

But Delhomme has been a disaster thus far and head coach John Fox is taking a huge risk in sticking with him. If Delhomme continues to struggle and Fox doesn’t make a move, then he’s basically saying to upper management that he can’t evaluate his own players Neither Feeley nor Moore would come in and light the world on fire, but as long as they didn’t turn the ball over they’d be more efficient than Delhomme.

Fox better hope Delhomme turns things around or else they both could be gone at the end of the year. The Panthers have been a model organization for inconsistency under Fox and I highly doubt management would stick with a head coach that can’t make a change when one is needed. Fox is essentially putting all his eggs in the Jake Delhomme basket and that’s a risky endeavor to say the least.

Panthers in hell of their own making in regards to Delhomme

In the offseason, the Carolina Panthers thought that it wasn’t wise to start developing a young quarterback under Jake Delhomme, even after the veteran turned the ball over 586 times during the playoffs last year. Instead, the Panthers signed Delhomme to a five-year, $42.5 million contract extension through 2014.

We’re not even halfway through the 2009 season and Delhomme has been as bad this year as he was on that fateful night in Charlotte last January. Right now, he’s on pace to throw a whopping 35 interceptions and ranks dead last in the league in passer rating.

After his brutal effort in a loss to the Bills yesterday, head coach John Fox wouldn’t commit to Delhomme being the team’s starter in Week 8. The problem Fox has is that Matt Moore and A.J. Feeley are listed behind Delhomme on the depth chart, so it’s not like he has a viable option even if he wanted to replace Horrendous Jake.

The Panthers absolutely dominated the Bills 425 to 167 in total net yards, yet because of Delhomme’s three interceptions they couldn’t beat a below average Buffalo team. Save for his injury-plagued 2007 season, the sad part is that Delhomme hasn’t been consistently good in four years. The running game bailed him out last year or else the Panthers wouldn’t have made the playoffs.

Fox and his coaching staff should have realized that Delhomme’s better days were behind him and should have done something about it in one of the past two drafts (if not one of the last three drafts). Now they’re left with either Moore or Feeley if they want to replace him, which means the Panthers can kiss the rest of the season goodbye.

Giving Delhomme an extension in the offseason was foolish. Not having the foresight to develop another quarterback behind him is flat out inexcusable.

Smith was worried he would be traded

I think Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith is one hell of a receiver. He’s a threat to take it to the house every time he gets the ball in his hands and he still finds ways to make plays when he’s double-covered. I’ve written several times in the past about how he is the Panthers’ offense.

That said, the guy needs a small reality check.

Following Carolina’s win over Tampa Bay in Week 6, Smith had this to say about his role in the Panthers’ offense:

“It’s bittersweet. We get the win, but I have a limited role. So, obviously, I see this game as showing I’m no longer an asset to this team. That’s all I got. My name’s Steve Smith and I stand by that.”

He’s no longer an asset to this team? Give me a break. Jake Delhomme has looked Smith’s way so many times throughout his career that I’m surprised the quarterback doesn’t have No. 89 tattooed on his retinas. Now all of a sudden Smith doesn’t feel like he’s an asset to his team?

Recently, Smith admitted that he was worried that Carolina was going to trade him at the deadline.

From Carolina

Steve Smith said he received several text messages from friends around the country about the possibility of him being traded to another team, one of those being the Miami Dolphins, prior to Tuesday’s trade deadline.

In fact, Smith received so many that he went as far as to contact his agent to see if there was any truth to them.

“I heard multiple teams I was going to,” Smith said during the team’s open locker session on Wednesday. “You hear the stories about waking up and being traded. You never want to be a guy who wakes up Carolina and hears there is a flight for you going somewhere else, so when you hear that you ask people. I asked my agent if there was anything going on. I got a few texts from different people in different states, so I had to make sure and investigate it.”

When contacted about the rumors, Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said they were completely false.

“We had no conversations with anybody about trading Steve Smith,” Hurney said.

Not that I’m Adam Schefter, but I didn’t read/hear any trade rumors involving Smith. Not one; not even from, which makes up rumors on a daily basis around the deadline.

Maybe he wasn’t worried that he was going to be traded, but hoping that he would. Either way, the reality is that he is under performing, has a huge salary and is liable to punch one of his teammates during practice. Why would any team trade for him?

Again, I think Steve Smith 1.0 is a fantastic player outside of his slow start this year. But for some reason, his name doesn’t get mentioned enough when people criticize the other prima donnas in the league.

Panthers’ issues on full display in Monday night loss to Cowboys

For those who couldn’t tune into Monday night’s game between the Cowboys and the Panthers, you didn’t miss much.

The Cowboys were sloppy, the Panthers were sloppier and thus Dallas won the ultimate snooze fest 21-7. Victories are hard to come by in the NFL, but if I were Wade Phillips or Jerry Jones, I wouldn’t be breaking out the party favors and bubbly after this one.

The Panthers are bad – real bad. And it’s not fair to pin all of their problems on Jake Delhomme, who threw two more interceptions tonight to run his season total to 407. Delhomme has been bad, but he’s hardly the only reason why Carolina is 0-3 right now and has little to no chance of repeating as NFC South champions.

The Panthers might as well cheat and set up speed bumps on every play, because their run defense is horrible. The Cowboys rushed for 212 yards tonight on 32 carries (6.6 YPC) without Marion Barber as Carolina made Felix Jones and Tashard Choice look like Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen.

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