Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cam Newton Proving All The Doubters, Including Me, Wrong

I was so certain that Cam Newton was never going to succeed in the NFL.  Smug in my certainty, I waved off the early reports that Newton was grasping the offense and leading his team in pre-season workouts during the lockout. Why did I think he was going to have such a hard time in the NFL?

My Three Reasons Why I thought Newton Would Have Difficulty In NFL

  • He Won't Be Able To Run:  He was so dominant running the ball (20 touchdowns,  285 rushing attempts for 1,473 yards) in college.  I didn't think he'd be able to run the ball much in the NFL (and he hasn't in comparison: so far in eight games he's had 57 attempts for 266 yards and seven touchdowns).  While he hasn't rushed nearly as much, he's still picking his opportunities well and making them count.
  • He Won't Be Able To Pass: 
    •  Newton only had 282 passing attempts in his only year starting at Auburn.  
    • While at Auburn, he had a 66.1 completion percentage, for 2,854 yards, and 20 touchdowns (only seven interceptions), again I credited the talent around him.  
    • In the NFL, he's looked fantastic passing the ball.  Far more skill than he seemed to show in college (and that was considerable), he's been a revelation in the NFL.  Currently, he's got a 60.3 completion percentage, 2,393 yards,  11 touchdowns, and nine interceptions.  
    • He set rookie qb records for yards in his first two games, surpassing Peyton Manning
  • The Game Will Overwhelm Him Mentally:
    • This goes back to two things:
      • Auburn uses a sign system to call plays from the sidelines.  A certain picture held up on a large poster corresponds to one particular play.  Cam didn't have to stand in a huddle and call out the plays like he does now.  He didn't audible like he can now.  
      • Cam only had one full season starting in Division I (I will always call it that).  History shows that QBs only getting one season of Division I football as a starter struggle in the NFL (see: Mark Sanchez as most recent example).  Cam had 282 passing attempts in college in his one season starting.  Peyton Manning had 1,334.
I thought my rationale for why he would struggle in the NFL was sound.  Clearly, I utterly underestimated him and his competitiveness.  I also underestimated the talent in the Carolina Panthers.  Now, while they're 2-6 they've been competitive in every game.  It's not as if Newton is making multiple critical errors and hampering his team.  Rather, it's Newton lifting his team up as if he's a seasoned veteran.

It's remarkable.  Newton is clearly a talent, and should be fun to watch for years to come. 

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