Matt Moore, who played the first half, did not look like a starting quarterback. Rookie Jimmy Clausen played the second, and he had moments. But he also threw a rookie interception. And when he moved around and beat the rush his inclination always was to throw the ball out of bounds rather than look for a receiver.
In Clausen’s defense, the blockers he played behind appeared to have sent party invitations to New York’s defensive line.
WHERE: Carolina’s backfield.
WHEN: Whenever you feel like it.
DRESS: Business casual.
WHO CAN I BRING: Linebackers, safeties, cornerbacks and third-teamers.
The Panthers are 0-2 in exhibitions. The losses are not particularly important. But the inability to score – the offense has yet to score a touchdown -- is.
I know that star receiver Steve Smith has yet to play. Star cornerback Darrelle Revis has not played for the Jets.
The offense has been so predictable, ineffective and boring that it reminds me of last season.
You remember last season. For the first time under John Fox the Panthers lost all four practice games. Then they lost their first three regular-season games. They averaged fewer than 13 points in the three losses. It was as if they were perpetually running underwater, into the wind and up a hill.
Even though they rallied to finish 8-8, it was a dismal 8-8. As the season wound down, they beat teams that didn’t have to win, or didn’t care to. True, Fox’s teams don’t quit on him. But they didn’t win for him when it mattered.
Under Fox, however, preseason performance has never foreshadowed regular results.
The Panthers went 4-0 in practice games in 2003, ’04 and ’06.
In real games they went 11-5 in ’03, 7-9 in ’04 and 8-8 in ’06.
The Panthers won 11 regular season games in ’05 and 12 in ’08. They went 2-2 in the preseason in each of them.
New Orleans, which won the Super Bowl last season, went 3-1 in practice games. It beat Indianapolis, which went 1-3.
Even if Carolina’s performance in August is not an indicator of its performance in the fall, the offense isn’t working. If it continues to perform the way it has, somebody will pass out buttons that say, BRING BACK JAKE, and a few people will wear them.
You know, of course, that there never has been a must-win game in the history of exhibition football, and there never will be. But the Tennessee game at Bank of America Stadium Saturday is important. The third exhibition always is because it most closely approximates a real game. Starters spent more time on the field and offensive and defensive coordinators spend more time developing game plans.
Saturday is an opportunity for Carolina's offense to establish that it no longer is 2009.