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Does Jake Delhomme’s Terrific Preseason Mean He’s Back?


Eric Mangini announced yesterday that during the Browns’ fourth and final preseason game against the Chicago Bears, Colt McCoy and Brett Ratliff would play the entire game. This means we can close the book on Jake Delhomme for the 2010 preseason.

Even though these games don’t count, you’d have to say at this point that he was pretty marvelous.

His final stats through three games were: 38 / 48 for 345 yards, with 2 TDs and 0 INT. He completed 79% of his passes, and finished with an average QB rating of 109.9. He also fumbled 3 times, but lost only 1.

Jake was playing against #1 defenses in the majority of his field time, but a few disclaimers should be applied to data above…

One, it’s the preseason and the games don’t count (worth saying twice), so teams experiment and do things they might not do in the regular season.

Two, in the preseason teams tend to baby injured players and hold them out the meaningless games. Being healthy for the real games is the priority, so Jake might have dodged a few bullets along the way, Clay Matthews Jr. being just one example.

Three, Delhomme managed to carve up the Packers in one series which is nice, but he also earned the stats above against the Rams and Lions; not exactly the Ravens and Steelers.

Lastly, Mangini and Brian Daboll have reputations for concealing game plans to gain a completive advantage. Delhomme’s stats might have been a product of trying to confuse future opponents rather than a preview of how the Browns are actually going to attack people. We know they want to be a running team for one, so putting too much stock into what we’ve seen so far could be dangerous. Plus it’s the preseason.

That being said, let’s compare Delhomme’s cumulative numbers from this preseason to his past preseasons with the Carolina Panthers. Maybe this would clue us in to what type of regular season we can expect from him.

Overall, Delhomme played seven seasons in Carolina. Two of those seasons were by any definition, good (John Clayton might beg to differ – see his QB ratings for this season). Two seasons were simply mediocre, and two were bad. One season (2007) was completely lost to injury so it won’t be compared to anything.



YearPassing % Yards TD / INT Opponents
200440 / 62654502 / 0Redskins, Giants, Patriots, Steelers
200532 / 46703863 / 2Redskins, Giants, Browns, Steelers
201038 / 48793452 / 0Packers, Rams, Lions

Yes, Delhomme’s good years came over a nice little run when he burst onto the NFL scene, and before he injured his elbow in 2007. So, it should be noted that no matter how good Delhomme has looked this preseason in comparison to others, his body simply isn’t the same anymore. But, if this is an indicator at all, you could make the argument that Delhomme is trending towards a very good year.

2004 and 2005 are the only seasons in which Jake eclipsed 20 TD passes in the regular season, or made it to the pro-bowl (2005). His two highest regular season yardage totals also came in 2004 and 2005. The Panthers made it the playoffs in 2005 after finishing 11-5, but lost to the Super Bowl bound Seahawks in the Conference Championship game. You’ll notice here that the Panthers are letting him air it out some to emerging star receiver Steve Smith.

Overall in 2004, Delhomme threw for 3,886 yards, with 29 TDs and 15 INTs. His best overall season statistically, yet the Panthers finished 7-9.

In 2005 Delhomme threw for 3,421 yards, 24 TDs and 16 INTs, and made it to the pro-bowl. The Panthers finished 11-5.




YearPassing % Yards TD / INT Opponents
200324 / 37652672 / 0Redskins, Giants, Packers, Steelers
200820 / 34592152 / 1Colts, Eagles, Redskins, Steelers
201038 / 48793452 / 0Packers, Rams, Lions

You can’t look at Delhomme’s 2003 regular season stats and say they were anything better than just average. Yet, the Panthers made it to the Super Bowl that season. Delhomme’s playoff run in fact was spectacular; he and Steve Smith caught fire and only the New England Patriot dynasty could stop them. Even in the loss, Jake was an amazing 16 / 33 with 323 yards and 3 TD passes, 0 INT.

2003 was also Delhomme’s only preseason where he was not considered the #1 man on the depth chart, and played against mostly second team defenses. Delhomme took over the starting duties from Rodney Peete, who began the season as the #1 guy but played only the first half of their first game. Even though it’s amazing that Jake went from undrafted, NFL Europe player, to the Super Bowl in his first full year as an NFL starter, his 2003 regular season was still statistically just plain.

Ditto for 2008, when Delhomme steered a resurgent Panthers to the playoffs, but was less of a factor than ever before. The Panthers won with a dominant running game, and when Jake was asked to win a game with his arm against the hot and high scoring Arizona Cardinals, the results were a disastrous 5 INTs and a 33-13 blowout loss. That pretty much brings us to where we are today.

In 2003 Jake finished with 3,219 yards passing and 19 TDs against 16 INTs. The Panthers finished 10-6.

In 2008 he finished with 3,288 yards passing and 15 TDs against 12 INTs. The Panthers finished 12-4.




YearPassing % Yards TD / INT Opponents
200623 / 41562571 / 0Bills, Jaguars, Dolphins, Steelers
200923 / 36642840 / 0Giants, Dolphins, Ravens, Steelers
201038 / 48793452 / 0Packers, Rams, Lions

 2009 is the notorious season which led to Delhomme being cut, despite leading the Panthers to three playoff appearances in six full years of play. He played a fairly mediocre preseason as he learned a new offensive scheme. It translated into a horrible regular season where he threw 18 interceptions in just 11 starts. He threw 0 TD and 0 INT in the preseason against very good defensive opponents, and this was the second preseason in a row where the Panthers had him throw less than 40 passes (due to his 2007 elbow surgery).

The Panthers finished 8-8 last year, but were only 4-7 under Delhomme. He finished with 2,015 yards and 12 TDs with those shocking 18 INTs.

In 2006, Delhomme was coming off his only pro-bowl season, and the Panthers second playoff appearance. Delhomme’s backup at the time was Chris Weinke, and his top targets in the passing game were Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson. I rated this as a bad season because, even though Delhomme threw 17 TDs against 11 picks (a better ration than above), he amassed only 2,800 yards and lead the Panthers to a disappointed 8-8 record after they had been in the playoffs the year before.




Don’t get too excited, but the numbers above do prove that Delhomme’s past preseasons have carried over to the regular season: His best preseasons were in 2004 and 2005 when he had his best seasons; his worst preseasons were in 2006 and 2009 when he had his worst seasons.

This however, has no effect on how the Panthers finished; their best seasons coming in Jake’s mediocre pre and regular seasons.

In Carolina, Delhomme had an accomplished #1 WR in Steve Smith with him, and with very good running game to boot. The Browns should offer him a good compliment on the ground, but they don’t have a circa-2003 Smith, and are nowhere near the defensive team the Panthers were in his prime.

What fans can hang their hat on is: the Browns weren’t being shy with Delhomme like the Panthers seemed to be late in his career there. He threw over 40 passes this preseason for the first time since his 2007 surgery and the 2004-2006 seasons of his prime. His completion and yardage totals rank better than any preseason he’s had except for those two sparkling years of 2004 and 2005. His completion % in 2010 was his highest ever.

Take these numbers for you what you will, because horrible teams go 4-0 in the preseason all the time. Football is crazy. 2007 is a great example: Delhomme had a decent enough preseason going 25 / 44 for 270 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, and it didn’t matter. He was injured and lost for the year in the Panther’s 3rd regular season game.

Also, in the grand scheme of things the Panther’s best seasons came when Jake was producing very mild Stats. Football is not all about how many yards your QB can toss up. It’s a combination of every dimension of a team, and a mix of good bounces too. So while Delhomme’s cumulative preseason stats may be a clue to good times ahead, anything can happen this year, so hold on tight.

If you are looking for a more definitive comparison, try Jake’s career passing averages against what Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson combined to throw last year.

QBPassing % Yards TD / INT QB Rating
Jake Career226 / 381592,75117/ 1385
Quinn + DA in 2009217 / 438502,22711 / 1755.8

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