The Cam Newton Express

Aug 31, 2011
The Carolina Panthers were the worst team in football last year. They were rewarded with the first overall pick which they spent on a 1-year wonder who spent that year running from a pay-to-play scandal all the way to the Heisman and a National Championship. He has all the indications of a draft bust:

1. Athletic QBs Win in College, Suck in the NFL

Just ask Tim Tebow. . . and Jamarcus Russell, and Vince Young, and Pat White, and Eric Crouch. In College, a QB who tucks it under and moves the sticks with his feet is a valuable asset. But in the pros, the defenders are too fast, the schemes too complex, the hits too hard. Scrambling QBs are eaten alive in the NFL. 

Vick: Nimble as a cat
But Michael Vick! you say. Vick is the anomaly. But he isn't even that. Vick was drafted in '01, but didn't get the starting job until '02. In '03 he broke his leg in preseason, came back at the end of the year to play in just a handful of games. Then he played 15 or 16 games in '04, '05, and '06.

So basically in his first 6 seasons, he only played 4 complete seasons. His total numbers in Atlanta looked like this:

930-1730  53.7%    11505 yards  71 TD  52 INT

He never once topped 3000 yards passing and his most TDs in a season was 20. Only since his release from prison and his resurgence in Philadelphia where he has learned how to be a pocket passer has he really found success as a passer. 

Compare to Drew Brees, the 2nd QB taken in the same draft as Vick. Brees was a 2nd round pick. Came in without the obscene athletic skills that Vick had, but was a smart pocket passer. From '01 to '06, Brees played in just a handful of more games than Vick (he sat the entire 01 season). 

Here were Brees' numbers:

1481-2363   62.7%    16766 yards    106 TD   64 INT

Which QB would you rather have? And if you think I'm being unfair for comparing Vick to Brees, remember that the Chargers drafted Rivers to replace Brees and then let him go as a free agent. This ain't exactly a Peyton Manning situation.

2. Auburn ran a simple offense

There is no spoon
If you watch Gruden talk to other incoming rookies and compare, it makes Cam Newton look like a high school kid. 

Playing QB in the NFL is about intelligence. Smart QBs do well. Now I'm not saying Cam is dumb, but the offense he ran in Auburn didn't require him to be intelligent. So he hasn't yet proven he has the mental ability to handle the NFL. 

3. One year wonder. 

It's hard to imagine that one year of success in college is enough preparation to be a starter in the NFL. The Draft history is littered with guys that blew up for one year, landed a high draft spot, then faded into obscurity. 

I got it
I'm looking at you Troy Williamson. 

Peyton Manning was the starter a few games into his freshman year, and never missed a game after that, even returning for a senior season even though he was assuredly a top pick. 

With 3 years and change experience as the starting QB at a major college program, Manning deserved the top pick. Had he skipped his senior year, Manning might very well have ended up a St. Louis Ram. 

4. No Pocket Awareness

In College, if there's nowhere to throw it, you tuck it and run. You can't do that in the pros. You'll be eaten alive. Good quarterbacks are at home in the pocket. They'll make subtle moves to keep the play alive. It's not about how fast you are, it's about knowing where the pressure is instinctively, moving to keep the play alive, and taking as few sacks as possible. 

Know what QB was sacked the least number of times last year? For comparison, I'll tell you that Michael Vick, who only played in 12 games, was sacked 34 times. Even the fast and elusive Vick is sacked about 3 times per game. 
This is what you get when
 you google "Manning's Sack"

The league leader in least sacks was a tie. Peyton Manning and...Eli Manning, were both sacked only 16 times. Or once per game. Peyton accomplished this feat despite having an offensive line made of swiss cheese, and throwing to a decimated receiving corps. It doesn't matter if he's under pressure and has practice squad players running go routes. Peyton Manning just won't be hit or sacked all that often. He's the master of the pocket. 

Here are the QBs that were sacked the fewest times (who actually played all year)

The Mannings 16
Matt Ryan 23
Drew Brees 25
Tom Brady 25
Carson Palmer 26

The worst list:
Jay Cutler 52
Cutler Drops Back To Punt
Joe Flacco 40
Philip Rivers 38
Donovan Mcnabb 37
Sam Bradford 34
Kyle Orton 34
Michael Vick 34

Notice a trend?
The 6 best QBs have between a Super Bowl record of 6-2. In fact, the 2 losses they suffered were Brady's in '07 and Manning's in '09, when they were up against another QB on the list. The 7 worst have between them a Super Bowl record of 0-1. 

Cam Newton has taken 4 sacks so far in preseason while attempting about 50 passes. Do some extrapolation and you figure he'll be sacked 30-45 times. However, this is in preseason where defenses aren't throwing complex blitzes at you. I'd put his sack total this year, if he plays the full season, at about 55. 

So you put that all together, and I have serious doubts that Cam Newton will be a successful NFL QB. 

But...I might be wrong. Especially in the NFC South. 

I wrote this before the start of last season:

The NFC South was created in 2002 during the 8 division re-alignment.
NFC South 2002
(2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 12 4
(6) Atlanta Falcons 9 6 1
New Orleans Saints 9 7
Carolina Panthers 7 9
In First season, Buccaneers win it all. Panthers finish last.
NFC South 2003
(3) Carolina Panthers 11 5
New Orleans Saints 8 8
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7 9
Atlanta Falcons 5 11
Panthers go from last to first and a trip to the super bowl where they are beaten by Adam Vinatieri's 2nd SB winning field goal. The Falcons finish last at 5-11.
(2) Atlanta Falcons 11 5
New Orleans Saints 8 8
Carolina Panthers 7 9
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5 11
Falcons go from worst to first. Buccaneers finish last 5-11.
(3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11 5
(5) Carolina Panthers 11 5
Atlanta Falcons 8 8
New Orleans Saints 3 13
Buccaneers go from worst to first. This is the year of Katrina and the last place Saints.
New Orleans Saints 10 6
Carolina Panthers 8 8
Atlanta Falcons 7 9
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4 12
Saints go from worst to first, Buccaneers finish last.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9 7
Carolina Panthers 7 9
New Orleans Saints 7 9
Atlanta Falcons 4 12
Buccaneers go from worst to first. Falcons finish last...draft Matt Ryan.
(2) Carolina Panthers 12 4
(5) Atlanta Falcons 11 5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9 7
New Orleans Saints 8 8
And here ladies and gentlemen, is the first year that the worst to first trend doesn't hold true. The falcons were the worst, and they did NOT win the division. Although, they finished 11-5, and got the 1st wild-card. The Falcons lost in the first round, and the Panthers lost at home after their first round bye, both were defeated by the eventual Super Bowl losing Arizona Cardinals. The Saints finished last at 8-8
(1) New Orleans Saints 13 3
Atlanta Falcons 9 7
Carolina Panthers 8 8
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3 13
Saints go from last in their division, to number 1 overall seed in the NFC and Super Bowl Champions.
Buccaneers finish 3-13 in last place. As crazy as it might have seemed. The NFC South History tells us that the Buccaneers have a good shot at winning the division.

And the Buccaneers failed to live up to prophecy, however they did finish 10-6 and just barely miss the playoffs due to a tie-breaker (The 10-6 Packers won the whole damn thing).
Cam Newton and Tim Tebow
Saw a spider. 

So looking back at 2010:
Atlanta Falcons 13-3
New Orleans Saints 11-5
Tampa Bay Bucs 10-6
Carolina Panthers 2-14

How can anyone possibly think the Panthers will have a winning record in this division? Well, history says otherwise. 

Bandwagoneers, be ready to hop on the Cam Newton Express. 

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