Still, I've decided to go ahead and put it out there, just to see if anyone else saw what I thought I saw this past Sunday.
Very early in the game, Steve Smith called the team's second timeout within less than 90 seconds and then walked over to Clausen with some rather emphatic gestures telling him he had to speed things up.
In response, Clausen barely looked at Smith, walking past him with his eyes aimed at the sideline.
Clausen did look at Smith on the next snap though. Looked at him, and threw a laser of a pass straight at his feet. Smith was open at the time.
The body language of both men was interesting.
When he threw the pass, Clausen's entire body motion looked angry, like a man spiking a ball rather than actually throwing it.
For his part, Smith looked like a man in disbelief, almost a "what the (bleep) was that" stance about him.
Post play, Clausen turned away and walked back to the sidelines, acknowledging nothing and no one.
The rest was history.
During the remainder of the game, Clausen only threw to Smith twice. Once in the mid 2nd and again in the late 3rd on the play where Smith wound up injured.
Looking at all that, much as I hate to say it, part of me thinks Clausen may have deliberately put that pass in the dirt as a message to Smith.
The message? "Don't embarrass me like that again."
If you believe that's true, it could be argued that Clausen asserting himself would be a good thing. A leader needs to act like a leader, and sometimes that can mean putting other guys in their place.
With that said though, discord on any team is bad. It''s especially bad on a team that's winless and looking terrible.
On the flipside, while you could argue that Smith was a little over-emphatic in his gestures, he was basically right. Clausen needed to speed it up. To be fair, a problem with Clausen's helmet radio connection was partially responsible. Still, this was far from the only time the play clock was an issue. Thus, you'd have to side with Smith in the big picture.
Regardless of which side you'd take in this argument (all of which is hypothetical until proven otherwise) the last thing the Panthers need at this point is any sort of schism, especially one that has anything to do with the guy that the team needs to be able to rally around.
Again, let me state that there's not a single thing I've read, heard, or seen anywhere else that makes reference to any issue between Clausen and Smith. And even if there was one at the time, it may have been resolved over on the sidelines shortly thereafter. In the absence of any corroborating evidence, no definitive statements can be made.
Worth noting that Clausen was pressured on the play, so it could have just been an overly quick throwaway.
Still, what I saw makes me wonder.
And, in this case, hope that I'm wrong.
Edited by Mr Scot, 05 October 2010 - 04:22 AM.