Jimmy Clausen slipped out of the 2010 NFL draft’s 1st round. When the Carolina Panthers picked him at 48th overall, the general consensus seemed to be that he was a great bargain at that draft slot. However his rookie season was rough at best. Should the Carolina Panthers sit or start Jimmy Clausen for the 2011 season?
Here are some of the reasons to sit and start Jimmy Clausen for the 2011 season. All stats are courtesy of ESPN.com and NFL.com.
Although Clausen had a 68% pass completion rate in his senior season at Notre Dame, he struggled to hit his wide receivers in his rookie season. Clausen finished the season completing only 52.5% of his passes. The low completion percentage came despite offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson running a system similar to what Clausen played in at Notre Dame.
#2. Lack of Rhythm with Other Skill Position Players
At wide receiver, Steve Smith has been the franchise’s premier offensive playmaker. With Clausen at quarterback, Smith finished the 2010 season with his lowest number of catches, touchdowns, and yards since 2004.
Clausen took 33 sacks during the 2010 season, despite not playing in 3 games and only throwing 2 passes in the 1st game of the season. Some of the sacks can be attributed to the offensive line. However when Clausen dropped back on passing plays, he would frequently set up at different depths behind the offensive line. His footwork needs practice so he drops back at a standard depth. This will help the offensive line create a pocket if they know exactly where he’ll be on every play.
His presence in the pocket needs some work as well. It will partially come with experience, but Clausen needs to be making his decisions faster. At times, he seemed to be stuck on one read instead of switching to his next option. He would hold the ball too long and take a sack.
#1. Lack of Options
Let’s say the Carolina Panthers draft a quarterback in the 2011 NFL draft. The team will be installing a new offensive system. There’s a lack of a capable playmakers on the offense. Steve Smith has been streaky and hasn’t had a 1,000 yard season since 2008. There would be little help for a rookie quarterback. Why not let Clausen start and avoid having the hypothetical rookie take a beating?
It’s entirely possible that Clausen could improve significantly from his 1st to his 2nd season. He was able to lead the Carolina Panthers to a win against the Arizona Cardinals. In that game, Clausen threw for 141 yards and a touchdown. He was able to complete 68.4% of his passes. If he can lean on a strong running game, Clausen can produce a win.
I think you have to look at Clausen as nothing more than a backup quarterback and possible starter at this point in his career. Although there were some expectations for him coming into the season, I saw very little potential out of him during his rookie year. I think the Carolina Panthers need to sit Jimmy Clausen for the 2011 season unless there are no other options available.
When the franchise starts hiring assistant coaches for the 2011 season, they need to take a look at a qualified quarterbacks coach. I think Clausen has the potential to develop into a game manager-style quarterback, but he needs a strong running game and a lot of work with his fundamentals. He can’t carry the team without help from his supporting cast.
ESPN.com Jimmy Clausen’s Player Page. January 8th, 2011.
NFL.com Jimmy Clausen’s Career Stats. January 8th, 2011.