Newton Vs. The Rookie QBs: By the Numbers

Going into the bye week I was hoping for a great win over the Vikings to write about. Instead the Panthers let another one slip away. So instead I want to touch on something that has become a growing nuisance over the last few weeks. There seems to be a certain segment of NFL fandom that swear up and down that they would rather have Andy Dalton than Cam Newton leading their team. So what I wanted to do is look at Cam’s numbers Vs. the rest of the Rookie currently starting to see if there is a weakness in his game that would cause me to pick any other rookie QB over him.

I’m going to put my Panther’s pride aside and look at this strictly by the numbers.

To start with lets lay out the numbers through week 8 of the four starting rookie QBs:

(Note: Since there is some disparity in number of games played we will focus on percentages to make things fair)

Player Team Comp Att Pct Att/G Yds Avg Yds/G TD Int TD/INT Rate
Newton CAR 174 287 60.6 35.9 2393 8.3 299.1 11 9 1.22 87.1
Dalton CIN 136 218 62.4 31.1 1479 6.8 211.3 9 7 1.28 82.7
Ponder MIN 40 77 51.9 25.7 554 7.2 184.7 3 2 1.50 77.5
Gabbert JAC 79 173 45.7 24.7 907 5.2 129.6 5 4 1.25 62

The first thing you notice is that even if we just look at percentages and averages, Gabbert and Ponder are, at this point, playing like rookies. They may improve with more starts, but at this point I say they are not in the conversation.

That leaves Newton and Dalton. I think it’s fair to say that both are performing better than expected by anyone. Dalton is on pace to throw for 3,380 yards, 21 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. That’s a good year by any stretch of the imagination. And his completion percentage of 62.4 is really impressive and is really the one area he leads the rookie QBs.

Cam Newton is on pace to throw for 4,785 yards, 22 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Those numbers, should he stay on that pace, would crush Peyton Manning’s rookie record of 3,739. Also, his yards per game of 299 is beyond impressive. Newton has a completion percentage of 60.6. His touchdown to interception ratio of 1.22 is, while higher than we as fans would like, in the same range as Dalton’s at 1.28. With two games under his belt Ponder has a slight edge in this area.

Overall, just looking at the numbers, Newton edges all other rookies out in almost every category. And while Dalton deserves to be lauded for the outstanding year he is having, there is one distinct difference between the two that goes beyond the numbers. No one is mentioning Dalton’s name in the same breath as elite QBs in the league, or talking about him breaking nearly every rookie record for a QB.

The main argument I have heard for taking Dalton of Newton is based on a number, that being the total number of wins their respective teams have this year. And on some level that makes sense, but thr truth is these guys can’t play every position.

The Bengals have the 4th ranked total Defense in the league and the 22nd ranked offense.

The Panthers have the 17th ranked total Defense in the league and the 5th ranked offense.

In this case its pretty clear that defense is the difference in wins and losses.


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