Is it game over for Carolina’s Jimmy Clausen?
Things move so fast these days that you often forget those that don’t win or lose in epic fashion.
We remember JaMarcus Russell’s fall from the mountain top because with the exception of Ryan Leaf, never has there been a projected franchise quarterback that has crashed so hard and with so much drama.
Former Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen has and continues to fall out-of-sight and nobody outside of Carolina is talking about it.
In 2010, when he was drafted guys like NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks, a former scout himself were quick to tout Clausen’s praises.
“Clausen’s a franchise quarterback,” Brooks said. “I think they’d want to take their time and groom him. But if Matt Moore falters, he’ll get a chance.”
At that time, of course Moore had yet to take his traveling Band-Aid show to Miami and the biggest knock on Clausen was his rumored super-sized ego that alienated his collegiate teammates.
In his rookie year as Brooks predicted, Clausen got to see some time. And for the most part he was pretty terrible.
Overall he finished the year with an abysmal 58.4 passer rating after he complete 52.4 percent of his passes and threw only three touchdowns to nine interceptions.
He did have a standout game against the Cardinals late in the year where his passer rating was 107.6 after he went 13-19 for 141 yards and a touchdown score. Clausen did not throw an interception in that contest.
The next week? His passer rating against the Steelers plummeted to 33.2 and yes he did throw an interception in that game.
Two things happened after this season that sent Clausen on the path that he is currently on.
While Jimmy was working out the kinks in his pro game, Cam Newton was busy tearing the nation apart as the QB for the Auburn Tigers. National Champion? Check. Heisman Trophy? Check.
Back at the ranch, former Panthers coach John Fox left town to start anew with the Denver Broncos.
Enter Ron Rivera whose regime chose Newton as the number one pick overall.
Newton is a special player that would without a doubt put 16 current NFL starters out of work if he found his way onto their roster.
Clausen didn’t stand a chance yet he was also a safeguard to anything that could have gone wrong.
He was squeezed from the other end with the addition of former Browns/Cards QB Derek Anderson who brought with him a powerful arm and a relationship with offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and his system.
The proverbial writing was on the wall yet regardless of how many teams like Arizona struggled with issues at the QB position, you never heard Clausen’s name in the mix of trade talks.
Is/was it a matter of he’s just that bad or was he buried in Carolina?
Going into this year, Clausen sits at the number three spot on the depth chart once again.
During OTAs, his positive snaps didn’t get half the attention that his negative snaps did such as his interception that was intended for WR Brandon LaFell that was snatched up by cornerback Brandon Hogan.
In a world where from a coaching perspective he’s really not anybody’s “guy,” you would think that he would get his Colt McCoy on and fight for a exit out of a no-win situation while he has some youth left.
“I think I’m getting better each and every day,” Clausen said. “Just come out and work hard. The more reps you get, the more times you watch tape, you see different things. You start getting a feel for this game. The speed of the game is probably the biggest adjustment. Now that it’ll be my third year it’s kind of slowing down to me.”
“My job right now is to work as hard as I can and make myself better and just make the team overall better,” Clausen said. “That’s how you win championships. Each guy on the team has a role and each guy on the team does that role to 110 percent of his ability. Coach Rivera stresses every day that we need each and every guy to do his role to make this team work.”
Speaking of Rivera, he seems to think that Clausen’s future is bright.
“I think so,” Rivera says. “I do. The kid’s got a good arm, he’s an accurate passer, he’s learned a lot, and I think if he continues to grow this season he’s going to get his opportunity.”
That’s all well and good, but how can that happen if he’s sitting in the number three slot?
He will get pre-season exposure but unless the Panthers roll him out early instead of second half garbage time, who will trade for a kid that can beat up on practice squad players or worse?
The next wave of NFL-ready draft picks are on their way to the league soon next April. With them come a new crop of faces that were just like him a little over two years ago.
Some will win and some will lose.