The former #1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Cam Newton, has had a roller coaster of a career since being selected by the Carolina Panthers. The highlight of his career was back in 2015, as he won the NFL MVP award and led the Panthers to Super Bowl 50. He is undoubtedly one of the best athletes in the NFL with his 6’5, 245 lb body frame, but do fans give Newton too much credit? Strong cases could be made for both sides of this debate, but let’s look at the stats and the success he’s had in his seven year career.
Passing wise, Cam Newton has thrown for 25,074 yards and 158 TDs, while tossing 94 interceptions. While those stats seem great at first glance, his career completion percentage is 58.9%, which is below-average when it comes to “elite/top tier” QBs. The talent is definitely there, but it’s concerning when your chances of completing a pass are roughly 9% higher than winning a coin flip.
Given this point, where should the blame be directed? Well, throughout Cam’s career, I would dare to say he’s been surrounded by upper-tier talent at receiver. The names such as Greg Olsen, Tedd Ginn Jr, Steve Smith Sr., Brandon LaFell, and Kelvin Benjamin are better than what other quarterbacks have been given in the past. In addition, Newton has been handed options at running back, primarily thanks to Jonathan Stewart, Deangelo Williams and Christian McCaffrey.
I think a lot of this has to do with the head coaching before Ron Rivera, but there should be some blame placed by the feet of Newton as well. His accuracy has always seemed to have been an issue, although, he seems to execute within the red zone. Averaging roughly 13 INTs a season isn’t terrible, but you can’t call that elite by any means.
The rushing ability of Newton has never been in question. Throughout his career, Newton has seemed impossible to contain (exempt Super Bowl 50 of course), with a total of 4,320 rushing yards and 54 TDs. With his size and speed, he’d be foolish to not take advantage of these traits.
In 2017, Newton led the Panthers in rushing yards, which is abnormal for a QB to do. This isn’t necessarily a criticism, but it seems as though Newton doesn’t spend enough time looking at all of his options, or the issue is that he takes too long, and the pocket collapses. His downfield vision has been a criticism that has followed the former MVP throughout his career. These rushing statistics are remarkable and have made/are making history, but is it helping his team win?
Cam Newton has played in a total of seven playoff games in his seven-year career, including a 24-10 Super Bowl loss to the Denver Broncos in the 2015-16 season, a season in which Newton had a total of 45 regular season TDs (rushing and passing). In his career, Newton has made the playoffs in four out of seven years, which is a solid mark to be at.
The blemish to this is that he has benefited from an overall weak division, and at one point in time, the NFC South was considered the weakest division in football. One of Cam Newton’s playoff seasons included the Panthers going 7-8-1 in 2014, a season where they had clinched the division.
His playoff statistics are also less than impressive, passing for 1,821 yards with 10 TDs to 7 INTs, ultimately gaining a 3-4 record in postseason competition. All “great” QBs should have a fair amount of playoff success, especially a team like Newton’s that has been surrounded by great defensive talent and above-average offensive weapons.
Cam Newton is incredibly talented, but he deserves a fair amount of the flack and criticism that he receives from the media. I won’t go into his maturity issues and his outbursts with the media, as I’d like to keep this purely on the field. Is Cam Newton overrated, or is he a well rated franchise QB?