We all know by now that Cam shattered Peyton Manning's first-game rookie passing yardage record. We also know that he tied the rookie record set by Matthew Stafford for most passing yards in a game. What we currently don't know is how he and the Carolina Panthers will measure up to the rest of the NFL come end of the season.
I was reading this article from yahoo.com which was detailing Cam's amazing day when I noticed something I haven't seen mentioned much. It's something I think, especially after what we saw from Cam today -- poise in the pocket, good reads, excellent game management, that should be noted: When the Colts drafted Peyton Manning he came into the league and set tons of records on his way to an awesome rookie season -- where the Colts went 3-13.
More after the jump...
We didn't win today, and it hurt. It was heartbreak. But I think we all can agree that blow was easily dampened by the play of Mr. Newton. So after watching today's game and looking at some numbers I can whole-heartedly say that I believe Cam will have a rookie season like Peyton Manning's (3,739 yards, 26 TD, 28 INT, 56.7 percent comp. pct., 326 completions). Now don't leave just yet, it's not as unlikely as some might think. If Cam averages 200 yards a game (and honestly after today, I can easily see this happening) then we could see him around 3400 yards. If he can maintain his 2:1 passing touchdown to interception ratio then we could see a finish of around 24 TDs and 12 INTs this season. (Not counting rushing TDs). That would most likely easily win him Rookie Of The Year, and the heart of every Panther fan (even the jaded ones who wanted us to draft someone else) if today's performance didn't already do this.
The thing it might not win is games. Let's face it, this season is going to be a struggle. We already know we have the hardest schedule and one of/if not THE toughest division. We expect eventually the fact that Cam and the team lost out on much needed practice and education because of the lockout will bite us and that Cam's rookieness will show. And with our 5 and out on the goal line today we might already have seen some of that. But regardless of even if that happens, I think we've garnered something amazing from today's game and something that should keep us going all year long. Pride.
We're a young team in transition. Most of us here on CSR expect lots of growing pains this year, marginal ones next year, and for us to be back in playoff form come 2013. I agree. I'm an optimist who hopes for 5-6 wins this year. But if Cam can have a season like I guesstimated above then regardless of how our final record turns out, I know that I'll be proud of our team. I wonder how the Colts fandom felt after having a QB shatter records and the team end up again at 3-13. Sad over the losses, I bet, but PROUD of Peyton Manning, and extremely optimistic towards next season. I've seen others post similar things about Josh Freeman's 1st year to 2nd year growth when relating hope towards our future. I'm gonna drink the game day KOOLAID and say that not only will Cam have a Manning-like rookie season, but that we could also have a Peyton Manning and the Colts size jump from year 1 to 2.
I know it's a bit much to go off of ONE game and one against a Cardinals D that isn't that strong, but I believe. I have hope. And I'm proud of our team. I do think we won't win many games this year, but it won't be for lack of effort (like some of last years games felt). I think a 3-13 season is highly likely. But come this time next year I believe we'll be hearing a TON of comparisons to Manning and that a jump from 3-13 to 13-3 will be possible from our team. That's what the Colts did and we've seen the Panthers bounce back big, going to the superbowl only 2 years after a 1-15 season. Today's performance showed us that with Newton, we're closer than we think to something magical like that happening again. Just as Peyton Manning was the missing cog for the Colts, so I believe is Cam Newton to the Panthers.