Why it's hard to predict how Cam Newton and the Panthers will do tonight

Thus far we've only seen two nights of football, but we've learned enough to know that for the most part the rookie QB's are struggling. It's hard to know what to attribute this to. On a casual glance one would peg it to the lack of OTAs and a shortened training camp season which has left the young player unprepared, however there are many smaller issues on a team level that have no allowed the young QBs to succeed. For Blaine Gabbert on Thursday he didn't get to run with much of the 1st team, Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco never really had a chance because of a porous offensive line, while Andy Dalton in Cincinnati never really got out the gate. Despite those situations, in New England Ryan Mallett was scintillating, showing why the concerns about him were never his on field ability, but rather what he did off it.

Today I'm going to try a rather difficult undertaking and aim to predict how Cam will do by looking at these other rookie QBs and seeing how their strengths and weaknesses from college manifested themselves in their first preseason game. Will we learn anything? Probably not, but it will be a fun project nonetheless.

More after the jump 

Blaine Gabbert

Strengths: Short pass accuracy, accurate passing on the run, quick release

Weaknesses: Pocket presence, deep pass accuracy

Game one stats: 9/16 (56.2%), 85 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT- 71.1 QB rating

- I don't know if anyone watched the game, but the Jacksonville QBs never really stood a chance. An extremely lackluster group of receivers made their night difficult with numerous dropped passes. That being said, we did see Gabbert play to his strengths completing passes short, and struggling on deeper routes.


Ryan Mallett

Strengths: Stands tall in the pocket, big arm, excellent accuracy when feet set

Weaknesses: Immobile in pocket, leadership, forces passes sometimes

Game one stats: 12/19 (63.1%), 164 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT- 108.2 QB rating

- While Mallett's stats look gaudy it's important to note that 50 yards came on a short pass to Taylor Price which he extended into a huge gain. That being said, Mallett played much like what we saw at Arkansas, steady in the pocket, statuesque, but behind New England's offensive line he got the time he needed.


Andy Dalton

Strengths: Good arm, intelligent QB, leader

Weaknesses: Smaller size, untested against top competition 

Game one stats: 11/15 (73.3%), 69 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT- 54.6 QB rating

- It looks like a Jimmy Clausen stat line, doesn't it? Dalton's first NFL pass was an inauspicious one as he threw an INT, from there he had to ability to move the ball down field. This was a concern as he moved from the college level too. Dalton looked out of his depth which resulted in a paltry 4.6 YPA average.


Colin Kaepernick

Strengths: Good arm, excellent leaders, makes plays with his legs

Weaknesses: Questionable accuracy, untested against top competition

Game one stats: 9/19 (47.3%), 119 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT- 27.6 QB rating

- The offensive line was really atrocious this game as neither Kaepernick, nor Alex Smith could get anything going. We did, however, see the questionable accuracy some were concerned about as he progressed from the pros.


What we've seen in all four occasions is players who played very similarly to how they did in college. Both their strengths and weaknesses were present in their respective games. So, how will Cam fait? Here's my prediction

Cam Newton

Strengths: Excellent pocket presence, arm strength, leadership, makes plays with his legs

Weaknesses: Lack of experience under center, worked in a gimmick offense, ability to read defenses

- The Carolina Panthers have stacked the deck to try and allow for Newton to succeed by bringing in pass catching tight ends and a playbook that is tailored to his strengths. In training camp he's been uneven, moving between brilliant and below average, but he is a player who rises to the occasion. 

Cam Newton's predicted stats: 10/21 (47.6%), 131 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT (63.78 QB rating), 3 rushes- 24 yards


So CSR nation... how do you think Cam will fare tonight? 

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