How Panthers misjudged their offense

All season long, we (that means you, me and virtually every person on the planet) have been ripping apart Carolina’s quarterback play. Understandable because Matt Moore, Jimmy Clausen and even future Hall of Famer Brian St. Pierre have been down-right awful.

I’m not going to defend them, mainly because that’s not humanly possible. But I was just flipping through some stuff from ESPN Stats & Information that I think at least adds a little perspective to what’s happened in Carolina.

Remember the last couple years when DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were running wild and making up cute nicknames for themselves? Well, I’m sure coach John Fox and general manager Marty Hurney remembered that as they went into this season.

It’s pretty safe to assume that Fox and Hurney though Williams, Stewart and an offensive line that used to be very good would help ease the transition for the young quarterbacks. Well, it hasn’t worked out that way at all. Williams and Stewart both were banged up and Williams is now on injured reserve and out for the rest of the season. The offensive line suddenly fell apart and even though substitute running back Mike Goodson stepped in and had a few nice games, the Carolina running game no longer scares anyone.

We’ve got the numbers to prove it. I’m looking at a list that has the numbers for every quarterback in the league who has thrown at least 20 passes out of play action. There are 38 names on the list.

If you go by passer rating (or just about any other category), Clausen is No. 37 and Moore is No. 38. Clausen’s passer rating off play action is 45.6. Moore’s is 35.7. Numbers for St. Pierre and Tony Pike, who also played a little, aren’t available because they didn’t meet the minimum requirements.

But let’s just pull out the calculator and total up how many touchdown passes Clausen and Moore have thrown out of play action. The answer is one (it was thrown by Moore). For perspective, Tom Brady leads the league with 11 touchdown passes off play action.

Combined, Clausen and Moore have completed 33 of 72 play-action passes for 354 yards and five interceptions.

Anybody want to take a guess which quarterback leads the league in passing yards off play action? It’s Denver’s Kyle Orton with 1,268. Now, the Broncos aren’t lighting it up either, but that’s due to reasons that go way beyond Orton.

Let’s be real honest here. Orton isn’t all that much more talented than Moore or Clausen. But these numbers show that, when you give a quarterback a little help, he at least can make things happen.