Debunking the Myth of Cam Newton's Second-Half Slump

So, I was reading an article about the Panthers. The article, written by Pat Yakinsas, suggested that the Panthers should start Jimmy Clausen for the entire fourth pre-season game. That article, is not what this article is about. This article is about a very particular post. It is a post I have seen, again and again.

The wording is different. The usernames are different. The argument is the same.

"Oh, you know that Cam Newton fella, he sure did get off to a hot start, but boy, he only had 212 yards per game in the second half of the season. It must be midnight, because his Aaron Rodgers carriage sure turned into a Vince Young pumpkin right quick. Only 212 won't cut it in today's nfl, gee golly. He's one of the duel (sic) thread (sic) q bees like Mick Vick and Tom Tebow. Next Vince Yang if you ask me!"

I will begin with an overview of the entire season. Then, I will discuss the last 8 games. The post I saw compared Cam to Tim Tebow, Michael Vick, and Vince Young. A better comparison would probably be Donovan McNabb, or Steve Young, but I've already written the damn article and it's late.

Whole Entire Season:

Cam was 10th in the league in yards per attempt (7.84) last season. He completed 60%, good for 18th in the league. Doesn't sound too impressive, certainly not elite. Is there perhaps some substance to this argument? Let us examine these comparisons more closely.

First, completion percentage. 60 percent. I wonder how that compares to Vick? Michael Vick is certainly the most accomplished passer of the three, and so would provide a good baseline for what constitutes a "dual threat" quarterback.


It looks like 60 percent is a higher completion percentage than Michael Vick has had in EVERY YEAR OF HIS ENTIRE PROFESSIONAL CAREER, except 2010.

Maybe Tim Te... Wow. Nope. Next candidate, please.

Okay, well maybe Vince Young did better than that. He did win ROY. Well, it turns out VY did finish twice with a completion percentage better than 60%. The first time, in 2007, when he had 17 interceptions. And 9 touchdowns. The second time, in 2008. When he played 3 games. That is a sterling resume.

Well, I've heard that completion percentage is overrated. What about yards per attempt? Cam was good for 10th this year. This was, incidentally, one spot better than Michael Vick. Looking back, Vick's magical 2010 season was the only year where Vick had more yards per attempt. Michael Vick started 12 games that year.

Let's see how that compares to Tim...


Alright, Vince Young then. Maybe VY had more YPA than Cam did. And, sure enough, he did. In 2010, when he played all of 9 games.

If Cam Newton had gotten his legs amputated before the 2011 season even began, he still would have had the 3rd best season in terms of YPA and completion percentage if you counted every season Vick, Young, and Tebow have played professionally. If you only count games where Vickyoungbow played all 16 games, Cam would have first place. Out of two. Out of all three "dual threat" quarterbacks, only Vick has played all 16 games in a season, in 2006. He threw for 2,474 yards that year. If we take away every game in which Cam threw for more than 300 yards, he would have thrown for 2,823 yards.

Cam Newton, without legs, still would have had a better rookie season than Peyton Manning. He would have had a better completion percentage, and more yards per attempt, as a rookie, than John Elway did in the first nine years of his career. Newton is not a "dual threat" quarterback, in the way it is tossed casually into a conversation during a meth cook. He is a traditional quarterback, who happens to have 4.5 speed. I would argue his game speed is faster than that, but that is another argument for another post.

Just the Second Half

Yes, it is true that Cam Newton did not throw for more than 300 yards after the halfway point. It is also true that 2 of the 3 games that year, where he passed for more than 70% completion percentage, happened after week 8. He was more efficient after the halfway point. His passer rating for the last 8 weeks was 4 points higher than his season average. It was 8 points higher than it was for the first 8 weeks of the season.

I will admit, he struggled against Tennessee and Detroit, throwing for 5 interceptions, with a QBR of 24 in those games. Without those two games, his season figures would look like this:

Completion Percentage: 60.3%

Yards Per Attempt: 8.055

Total QBR: 61.17

That's not a huge difference, but it's a difference nonetheless. It's enough to bump Tony Romo out of 7th place in YPA, and move up a spot in completion percentage. He was terrible in the two aforementioned games, so if this theory about a second half slump holds water, it follows that he must have played poorly indeed following those two games.

Well, those two games were the 9th and 10th games of the season. He actually played better in the last 6 games of the season.

YPA: 7.89

Completion Percentage: 61.6%

QBR: 65.1

If the QBR doesn't leap out at you, it should. That's 9 points better than his season average. It isn't huge, considering the guys at the top of the league were well into the 70s and 80s, but I wasn't trying to argue Newton became elite, just that he got better as the season wore on.

But, he only averaged 194.3 yards a game over those same 6 games. He must have hit a rookie wall. He must be the next Vince Young.


And there it is again. The same post. And so it always was, and forever always shall be.

The content of these posts are those of the user/fan making the post only

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