Is Jimmy Clausen the next Kerry Collins?

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…It’s no secret that we here at the Daily Jolt are big fans of the Jimmy Clausen brand. I mean, what’s not to like about the All-American Golden Boy? Wouldn’t you want your daughter to marry such a lad? Now we take pride in being objective journalists, so we'll be critical of the former Golden Domer if he warrants admonishment. But as the Clausen era in Carolina began over the weekend with the Panthers holding their minicamp, we can’t help but wonder whether all the pieces are in place for him to win the starting quarterback job in the fall.

Carolina runs an offense similar to the one Clausen directed under Charlie Weis at Notre Dame — including most of the same terminology. “You don't typically learn a pro-style offense right when you get to college,” said Clausen. “I think that's what's going to help me. The learning curve is not going to be as drastic as it was in college.” Clausen would be the beneficiary of working behind one of the league's top offensive lines, a unit that blocks for one of the best running back tandems in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, who last year became the first teammates in league history to rush for at least 1,100 yards in the same season. Wide receiver Steve Smith remains one of the league’s best, while third-round picks Brandon LaFell and Armanti Edwards, along with sixth-rounder David Gettis, will add much-needed energy to the receiving game.

Matt Moore is the incumbent, of course. But don’t you get a sense that somehow Clausen sees the field in 2010? He’s already establishing himself as a leader, texting Carolina's other rookies and veterans like Jordan Gross, Thomas Davis, Smith, Williams and Stewart after being drafted. He may have had his skeptics entering the draft, but Clausen is at least taking a professional approach in the early days of his pro career.

Can he be the next Kerry Collins? That’s not a bad life if you really think about it.

After being selected by Carolina with the fifth overall pick in the 1995 draft, Collins led the Panthers to the NFC championship game in just his second season. Of course, things went downhill after that season in Carolina. But he rebounded and later took the N.Y. Giants to a Super Bowl appearance and has had a very respectable career since.

If Moore isn’t the long-term solution under center, and Clausen makes a smooth transition to the pro game, can a second-year Clausen repeat history for the Panthers? Only time will tell, but never bet against a Clausen. Well, unless it’s Casey or Rick. Then definitely pick the other guy in that case.

…America’s favorite late-night host (or apparently, just our favorite late-late night host) Conan O’Brien made his television re-debut, if you will, on Sunday night during CBS’ 60 Minutes broadcast. Sitting down with Steve Kroft, the former Tonight show host spoke publicly for the first time since walking away from NBC and ultimately inking a deal with TBS for a show to begin next fall. I thought Conan came off very well, mostly because of the awesome beard and classy blue shirt he was wearing. Of course, in light of Jay Leno weaseling his way back into the Tonight seat, Conan was going to come off smooth no matter what — barring some really horrific words toward NBC or Leno. The Baltimore Sun’s TV critic David Zurawik seemed to think that Conan went out of his way to take the high road, however, as he wrote an interesting piece on Sunday night in his blog where he discusses the influence on the interview of O’Brien’s non-disparagement clause with NBC (O’Brien’s $30 million buyout came with the provision that he couldn’t say negative things about the network). Zurawik argues that O’Brien used “whining, sniping comments” when discussing his character in relation to Leno’s and how he would have done things if he was in Leno’s position. While O’Brien’s “but that's just me” and “I can sleep at night” phrases do seem high and mighty in print, I actually did think they were genuine from a viewership perspective. You can watch for yourself, however, in case you missed it. Let me know what you think.

I did think O’Brien maneuvered around some questions as not to violate the clause, but that’s just what he had to do. As viewers and fans, of course we wanted as many juicy quotes as possible, but we should have known it wasn’t going to happen. Was it a way for CBS to “take a few shots at a competing network,” as Zurawik wrote? Oh, very much so. But I don’t think the piece in any way was offensive and lacking journalistic integrity. I actually thought Kroft did a nice job with it — his subject just wasn’t able to give as much as he or we wanted.

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