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Let the controversy begin.

It's only natural. When two players of similar talent and experience are on the same roster, there will always be those that think one is clearly better than the other. There will be two camps; each diametrically opposed to the other, unwaivering in their stance and blind to anything contrary to their mantra.

No, I'm not talking about Democrats and Republicans; I'm talking about the Delhomme-backers and the soon-to-be-formed Carr-backers, (who will replace the Weinke / Dameyune Craig-backers shortly, if not already formed).

Their 2006 stats are very similar. Carr threw for 2,767 yards in 442 attempts, completing 68.3% of his passes thrown and a QB rating of 82.1. Delhomme threw for 2,805 yards in 431 attempts, completing 61% of his passes thrown to finish with a QB rating of 82.6. Delhomme threw 6 more touchdowns and 1 less interception than Carr did last season. The panthers finished 8-8, the Texans, 6-10.

Full Stats: Carr | Delhomme

The two couldn't have entered the league in more opposite ways. Carr was the #1 overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft, Delhomme was an undrafted free agent that struggled to make a roster during his first 5 seasons before coming to Carolina and getting a chance to shine. In his first 5 years in the league, David Carr has played in 76 games, thrown 2,070 regular season passes, 59 touchdowns and 65 interceptions. In the first 5 years of Jake Delhomme's career, he played in 6 games, threw 86 regular season passes, 3 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Both played for bad teams. Carr had the onfield learning process, while Delhomme learned in practice and on the sidelines.

Delhomme, who is now 32, came to the Panthers in 2003 at the age of 28 -- a few months older than Carr is now -- and built his career. Previously, the Panthers gambled on Delhomme's potential and won; Delhomme is easily the most successful Quarterback in Panthers history, leading the team to 2 NFC Championship game appearances and 1 Super Bowl appearance in 4 years. Now they are hoping to do the same thing with Carr, a player they believe is physically talented and intelligent.

Last season was one of Carr's better years, statistically. Despite having hardly any running game, Carr managed to lead the NFL in completion percentage. Conversely, last season was one of Delhomme's worst since coming to the Panthers.

Delhomme would seem to have an edge on Carr in experience, but the fact of the matter is, Carr has played in more games than Delhomme has in his career. Delhomme has been surrounded by better talent than Carr, who was the centerpiece of an expansion team that was riddled by injuries.

The Panthers will be installing a new offensive scheme in the offseason, meaning any upper hand Delhomme has in that respect is nullified. Delhomme does have a rapport with WRs Steve Smith, Keyshawn Johnson and Drew Carter, but that is something Carr could build during the spring and summer before the season starts.

Carr was atop the Panthers' draft board in 2002, meaning that if both he and Peppers were available at the #2, they would have selected Carr. It seems crazy to say that now, since Peppers has developed into a game-changing defensive end that seems destined for Canton, and Carr has been nearly another first round bust, but in the Spring of 2002 there were a lot of questions about Peppers; his work ethic and the question of whether he could ever live up to his potential or not. At the time, the Panthers had Rodney Peete, a serviceable career backup who underachieved the previous season, and Chris Weinke, a former college standout whose collegiate success never translated to the professional arena. The Panthers needed a quarterback, and Carr was everything they wanted. Fortunately, Carr was selected by the Texans to be their expansion centerpiece and Peppers fell into the Panthers' laps. Now, 5 years later, the Panthers had a chance to get the QB they coveted without the risk and price tag he had in 2002. It's no secret the Panthers pushed hard to sign Carr when he was in town last week, and it's no secret they pushed even harder when he left to visit Seattle after his visit here.

Carr was coveted for a long time, and now he's finally here. Does that mean Delhomme's days are numbered? Not necessarily. The team loves Jake, too. They love his leadership and poise. They love his experience and grit. He's earned the starting job here, and done nothing to lose it. However, with a guy like Carr waiting in the wings, his margin of error is extremely thin. The coaching staff and front office are standing on thinning ice, and anything less than a playoff appearance in 07-08 would certainly put them in a precarious position. If the team falters because of Delhomme (for example, bad decisions, poor throws, fumbles), the team has a viable option to go to in Carr.

There will always be fans who think Delhomme can do no wrong, and those that feel he's already past his prime. It's the nature of the beast. At least the team is in a better position than they were last season, and they have a plan for the future -- one that has worked in the past for them.

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