Now be honest. Before the NFL season kicked off, had you ever heard of this guy before? To tell you the truth, if you would have asked me back in June who this Delhomme character was, I would have guessed physical trainer or maybe mystery novelist.
Where did Jake Delhomme come from? Well, there’s a wild rumor flying around sports circles right now that in the not-so-distant past, Jake did a little quarterbacking in the Arena Football League. And, he may even have played a few games for the New Orleans Saints.
But I now believe, as most Carolina Panthers fans do, that Jake Delhomme played harp in heaven. That’s right. They feel like Jake descended from heaven above, to directly under center at Carolina. What else could possibly explain the madness and a 14-5 record since Rodney Peete went down in Week 1?
Could Jake be following the no-name QBs of 1999 and 2001 to Super Bowl glory? Not many people had heard of Trent Green’s backup in St. Louis until Green was injured and little known Kurt Warner guided the Rams to the Super Bowl and won the MVP trophy.
And who knew anything about Tom Brady a little over two years ago when he entered the game for the Pats after Drew Bledsoe went down. But one Vince Lombardi Trophy and Super Bowl MVP later, we all know about Brady and his bunch. They say things run in threes. It happened in Super Bowl XXXIV and XXXVI. I see an every other year cinderella QB trend developing here. How about Super Bowl XXXVIII? It wouldn’t shock me.
Panthers fans were a little skeptical when the journeyman backup trotted out on the field in Week 1. But he wasted little time winning over their hearts? The Jaguars were in town and leading 14-zip at halftime. Enter Jake Delhomme, the magic man. Jake was picked off twice but threw three touchdowns and helped engineer 24 second-half points to nip Jacksonville 24-23.
What happened that day in early September, established a trend for the remainder of the season. The big cats from Carolina won dramatic close games all season long. Jake guided the Panthers downfield on their final drive in eight different games and came away a winner. Nine of their games were won by seven points or less. Now that’s character.
The guts Carolina has displayed for the last 19 weeks was molded by John Fox, who is just as smart as his last name might indicate. The numbers speak for themselves. Carolina was 1-15 two years ago. Last year Fox took over and upgraded the Panthers to 7-9. This year a team whose QB and coach had never been involved in a playoff game are headed to the Super Bowl.
The Pats were expected to make a run at the title this season. Carolina was not. Here are the exact lines from one of the many preseason reports on the Panthers. "Three QBs is no QBs””the aged Rodney Peete, aging youngster Chris Weinke and journeyman Jake Delhomme. Expectation is the defense will carry Panthers to competitive status in a tough division. But like Baltimore, who’s the QB?"
Turns out that QB was journeyman Jake Delhomme. And a week from this coming Sunday, he’ll be leading his touchdown underdog Panthers onto the field at Reliant Stadium for Super Bowl XXXVIII.
I hate to tip my hand too soon and give you a quick pick I haven’t fully thought out. But it will be difficult to bet against the Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
The Pats are on an unbelievable streak. They’ve won 14 straight and haven’t trailed in a game since Week 12 ”” 29 quarters of football. It’s unsettling to bet against a streak like New England is on. But I think you should consider it.
Lets both think about it and talk again next week. Maybe we’ll do lunch. But just in case we miss each other, you may want to grab that 7 while it’s there. I can’t believe this number would settle any higher than 6 or 6 and a hook. Talk to you next week.