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It’s unfair to write off Panthers rookie QB Jimmy Clausen already

Posted by dan.parzych  
December 7, 2010
SEATTLE - DECEMBER 05: Quarterback Jimmy Clausen  of the Carolina Panthers passes during warmups prior to the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on December 5, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks won, 31-14. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

His first season in the NFL has not gone the way Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen expected it to go. At 1-11, the Panthers seem to be heading towards the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft and with a few quarterbacks expected to go in the first round—many wonder if Clausen’s future is in jeopardy already.

Now, the main question is whether or not it’s fair to judge Clausen based off just one season—especially considering the situation in Carolina.

On the season, Clausen has thrown for just 1,056 yards with one touchdown and six interceptions. Obviously, these types of numbers should be a reason for concern—which makes it no surprise why there’s talk about the Panthers taking a shot with one of the quarterbacks from this year’s class. However, it would be unfair for Carolina to give up on Clausen so quickly after what he’s had to work with as a rookie.

First, there are the problems with the offensive line—which ranks 29th in the NFL by allowing 36 sacks through the first 12 games. If the protection isn’t there, how is a rookie like Clausen supposed to put up big numbers if he’s facing constant pressure by defenders?

Along with the problems with the offensive line, Clausen has dealt with an inexperienced receiving corps outside of Steve Smith—who clearly isn’t the effective wideout from a few years ago. After Dwayne Jarrett’s release following another DUI, the Panthers had no choice but to rely on rookies David Gettis (third round pick) and Brandon LaFell (sixth round pick) this season. Both players have shown potential at times this season, but have also struggled to stay consistent. To expect big numbers from a rookie quarterback with this group of receivers is unfair—especially on top of the offensive line problems.

The Panthers will certainly have a few options if they end up with the No. 1 pick in April. While the temptation will be there to draft a player with the skills certain quarterbacks like Stanford’s Andrew Luck possess, the smart move may be to try and trade the pick to fill other team needs—like the offensive line or wide receiver. Clausen has shown true potential at times and could be a much better quarterback if given the right weapons.

In other words, it’s unfair to write off Clausen already considering what he’s had to work with as a rookie. Provide him with an improved offensive line and a few more weapons at wide receiver—then decide whether or not he has what it takes to be a franchise quarterback for the Panthers.

Dan Parzych is the Lead NFL Content Editor for RantSports.com/NFL,  where he writes and edits NFL content for RantSports.com.

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