The Jimmy Clausen era is under way in Carolina, ahead of schedule.
Coach John Fox said Monday he's benching the struggling Matt Moore and will start the rookie from Notre Dame on Sunday against Cincinnati as the Panthers try to avoid their second straight 0-3 start.
"We've just not been getting it done," Fox said. "Jimmy is a guy we think highly of. I thought he made the most of his opportunities Sunday. We'll see how it goes this week."
Moore has had two miserable weeks, a steep fall from his strong 4-1 finish as a starter last season that helped pave the way for seven-year starter Jake Delhomme's release in March.
Moore threw three end zone interceptions and lost a fumble before leaving with a concussion in a Week 1 loss to the New York Giants. After being cleared to return Sunday, Moore threw an interception and lost another fumble before getting yanked early in the fourth quarter of the 20-7 loss to Tampa Bay.
"I don't know where his confidence level is at, or really where our confidence level is on offense right now," Fox said. "So this is just a move to try to spark our offense and we'll see how it goes."
Moore has led Carolina on only two touchdown drivers, completed just 41 percent of his passes and has a passer rating of 41.8. The Panthers have the 28th-ranked offense in the NFL through Sunday's games after being the first team in at least 14 years to not score an offensive touchdown in the preseason.
"There were some plays out there that we left, no doubt," Fox said of Sunday's game. "We've got to be able to make those in game situations. Talking to the team today, we've got to spark our offense, in particular the passing game. So we're going to start Jimmy Clausen this week and see how that renders. We'll let Matt sit back and watch."
Clausen is 7 of 15 for 59 yards and one interception in two brief stints for Carolina. It's a quick rise to starter after Clausen's unexpected drop in April's draft. Once considered a top 10 pick, Clausen slipped to 48th overall to Carolina amid questions about a toe injury and his attitude.
Clausen was greeted with cheers when he replaced Moore early in the fourth quarter Sunday. He completed six passes — as many as Moore completed all game — on his first possession. But the drive ended with running back Jonathan Stewart being stopped short on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
Clausen was intercepted by Aqib Talib later in the game on a deflected pass.
But after stubbornly sticking with an ineffective Delhomme for much of last season until he was sidelined with a broken finger, Fox wasted little time dumping Moore, who has made 10 NFL starts. The move comes as Fox faces uncertainty himself as works in the final year of his contract.
"Somehow or another we have to gain some confidence in the passing game," Fox said. "We'll see if this works."