BEREA—As Jake Delhomme was introduced as the newest Browns quarterback on St. Patrick’s Day in Berea, Browns fans could only be hoping a little luck of the Irish will come their way with the signing.
Delhomme started his career with the Saints in 1998 and was with them for five seasons until 2002. He only played in six games while with the Saints before joining the Panthers for the 2003 season when he replaced starter Rodney Peete in the season opener and led the Panthers to a come-from-behind victory. He started the remaining 15 games and helped the Panthers finish 11-5 and a place in Super Bowl XXXVIII, where the Panthers lost 32-29, to the Patriots.
Delhomme said he had a lot of calls from teams, but decided to pursue the opportunity with the Browns and Saints.
“I set up two visits,” Delhomme said. “I set up Cleveland and New Orleans. Other teams called, but I waited a little to let the sting and emotion from the release (by the Panthers).”
Delhomme admitted that he never made the trip to New Orleans because of the weather.
“After my visit (with the Browns) I was at the airport heading to New Orleans and my flight kept getting delayed, so I went back home to Charlotte.”
After thinking about it, he made the decision to join the Browns.
“This team won their last four games after being 1-11,” Delhomme said. “That tells you something. I don’t know what, but I felt that there was something in Cleveland.”
Delhomme said the bottom line was he wasn’t ready to be a backup.
“I had an opportunity to compete here,” he said. “There was no question what my role would be in New Orleans. I had to decide if I was ready to compete or hold a clipboard.”
What makes him think he will be able to rebound?
“I’m optimistic... I’m a glass half full guy,” he said. “It’s a fresh start and that’s been the most refreshing part of being here."
"That was a big attraction.” he said. “(Holmgren) has a big track record and that was something that made this situation attractive. It was also to start something fresh.”
Delhomme said he thinks physically, he’s far from worn out.
“I was a backup for so long at New Orleans I didn’t get hit,” he said. “ The body really feels good.
“The arm feels fine and has never been an issue since the surgery (in 2007),” he said. “Mechanically, I was fine. I just didn’t play well.”
Delhomme made no excuses about his play in 2009.
“I didn’t play good football, for whatever reason,” he said. “From week one on, I didn’t play well. It wasn’t very fun.
“We didn’t have the same continuity we had in previous years and I pressed too much,” he said. “I wasn’t being me. I tried to do too much and it probably didn’t work.”
When asked what "not being himself" meant.
“To me, I think I’m my best when I’m out slinging it and playing loose and having fun.
Delhomme admitted he lost some of his confidence after throwing five interceptions in a playoff loss to the Cardinals after the 2008 season.
“It took a bit of my confidence,” he said. “The playoff game was such a downer and I tried to do way too much. I keep saying that. I was thinking instead of playing.
“Obviously, it did (shake my confidence),” he said. “ I put a lot on myself.”
Delhomme, 35, originally signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent in 1997 from Louisiana-Lafayette. He played in NFL Europe in 1998 and 1999 and has played in eight NFL playoff games and owns a 5-3 record in the postseason, including an appearance in the Super Bowl.
Delhomme was the primary starter with the Panthers from 2003 through 2009 and was 54-38 as a starter. His career completion percentage is 59.2 and he has thrown 123 touchdowns against 94 interceptions. His career QB rating is 82.1.
When Mike Holmgren and Eric Mangini spoke of the signing of Delhomme they talked of evaluating the total body of work and not the 2009 season when he was just 4-7 as a starter and completed 178 passes of 321 attempts (55.5 pct.). He threw for 2015 yards with just eight touchdowns and 18 interceptions. His QB rating was just 59.4. Both his completion percentage and QB rating were the lowest of his seven seasons as the starting quarterback.
Delhomme is anxious to show he still can be productive.
“I have to go out and prove it. I can go out and feed you a few lines, but I have to do it.”
Delhomme said he will do everything to help a young quarterback develop if the Browns bring a young player in through the draft.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Whatever they want me to do. I had guys help me when I first started. We had a guy in New Orleans, Bill Joe Tolliver, who took me under his wing and it ultimately cost him a job because I beat him out.
“It happened in Carolina. Rodney Peete helped me and I ended up taking his spot,” he said. “I was happy for Matt Moore last year.
“I think it’s special and part of the legacy to help young guys come along.”
Official Signings: The Browns officially announced the signings of LB Marcus Benard, LB Blake Costanzo and RB Chris Jennings. All three players had been exclusive rights players. The transaction was reported earlier today on the OBR Daily Blog.