It's rare to see a head coach with an unsettled situation at quarterback name his starter on a Monday, when he could keep his next opponent in the dark until later in the week, but John Fox went ahead and announced rookie Jimmy Clausen would start for the 0-2 Panthers against Cincinnati in Week Three.
Clausen came on in relief of Matt Moore in Sunday's loss to the Buccaneers and completed 7-of-13 passes for 59 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
"We've just not been getting it done," Fox told reporters on Monday. "Jimmy is a guy we think highly of. I thought he made the most of his opportunities Sunday. We'll see how it goes this week."
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The starting job was going to be Clausen's sooner or later, and with things looking as bad as they do on offense, it's hard to argue with Fox's decision. Clausen will get some valuable experience, and he'll make plenty of mistakes. No one should think of him as a savior for the 2010 season. The rest of this year will serve as key preparation for 2011 and beyond, when the Panthers hope to be a more legitimate threat in the NFC South.
Clausen has shown some good things in the limited time he has played in the first two weeks. He's going to need more help from his supporting cast than Moore received, however, to get the Panthers out of this funk. The running game, which is ranked 16th in the league, has to be more productive, and an offensive line that allowed Moore to be sacked eight times in two games needs to improve. It likely will when ORT Jeff Otah, who has yet to play this season, returns from a knee injury.
There are also issues at wide receiver. The Panthers, who only had three receivers active on Sunday, don't have a reliable target for Clausen to throw to besides Steve Smith. With a pair of good corners in the Bengals' Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall awaiting in Week Three, successful plays through the air could be hard to come by.