Carolina Panthers quarterback Matt Moore sat down to field questions about what happened.
Looking uneasy and frustrated after the Panthers’ home opening 20-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and getting pulled in the fourth quarter for rookie Jimmy Clausen, Moore tried to remain positive.
“Well, as a player you take pride in going out there and doing your best,” he said. “I respect their decision. I think anyone would be a little disappointed but at the same time I respect coach (John) Fox’s decision and that’s where it is.”
Moore, who has six turnovers in two games, struggled and completed only 6 of 16 passes for 125 yards. He threw one interception and one touchdown.
With the offense unable to move the ball and throwing a silly interception in the third quarter, Fox made a decision that will leave Queen City residences talking by the water coolers for the entire week.
“He (Steve Smith) looked open to me, obviously,” Moore said about the interception that had three defenders surrounding Smith. “I think Ronde (Barber) did a nice job. He carried the seam route, which we thought he was going to do on that particular play. He came off quickly and shot underneath Steve. We had what we wanted on that look, so credit Ronde to being in the right place.”
That play may have doomed Moore’s chances at keeping his starting job. Fox said he made the decision to give Clausen some reps, but it wasn’t anything against Moore’s performance. Fox said both quarterbacks moved the team down the field.
“We weren’t good enough offensively,” Fox said. “That was evident. We had opportunities. We had drops. We had misses. That was the difference in the score. You are not going to win your share of games in this league scoring seven points.”
Fox may have tried to make light of the situation and focus on the team’s poor performance, but the media’s main topic is the Moore benching. However, Fox said Moore was not “benched by any stretch.”
Fox didn’t say who would start against the Cincinnati Bengals next week at Bank of America Stadium. He did say the Panthers will start the quarterback who will give them the best chance to win.
Clausen, who completed 7-for-13 passing for 59 yards and a pick, said he thought he did fine and will be ready to start next week against Cincinnati if necessary. Asked about starting the Bengals, he said, “I have no idea. It’s way too early for the coaches to decide that. It’s not my decision. It’s a coaches’ decision. They’ll make that judgment and call when the time is appropriate.”
Clausen said he felt pressure because the Panthers were down 20-7 when he entered the game. He said he wanted to score and get the ball back, so Carolina would have a chance to win.
Clausen, who entered the game with 10:03 remaining in the final period, was disappointed the offense didn’t score on the long drive. The rookie led an 18-play, no-huddle drive that ended at the Bucs’ 1 when running back Jonathan Stewart could not punch it in from the 4-yard line.
“It’s definitely disappointing,” Clausen said. “You drive all of the way down the field like that and you are on the four yard line. You just have to keep getting better and push it in there.”
Moore was disappointed too. He said quarterbacks coach Rip Scherer told him that the Panthers were going with Clausen after his last drive with 12:46 remaining in the game.
But Moore said he hasn’t lost confidence and expects to start against the Bengals.
“You try to go out there and make plays and win the ballgame,” Moore said. “They made a decision at whatever point it was and that is just the way it is.
“You are frustrated individually because you never want that to happen, but at the same time, I’m not one to go against the grain and argue or complain. I think I understand and respect the decision. Wish it had never come to that, but that’s the way it is.”