If I were to ask a group of pundits who deserves most of the blame for the Carolina Panthers 2013 woes, I'm sure I would get several different answers. Of course, I can certainly imagine that a handful of them would name Cam Newton as the number one culprit. But to do so would be both short sighted and incompetent. Let's be real, anyone can look at a couple of video clips highlighting his mistakes and spew an uninformed opinion.
Believe it or not, sometimes fans are the best experts of all because they've watched every single snap, whereas the so called professionals are clouded by laziness and agendas. Any clear minded individual who has followed the Panthers closely through their first four games should be able to tell you that Newton is the least of this team's problems. Sure, he's played a part in this debacle, but there isn't a quarterback in the NFL who would look good operating behind this atrocious offensive line. Need proof? Look no further than the statistics I've provided in the charts below.
|Tom Brady||Sack %||Yrds/Att||Comp %||QB Rating||TD %||INT %|
|Eli Manning||Sack %||Yrds/Att||Comp %||QB Rating||TD %||INT %|
|Ben Roethlisberger||Sack %||Yrds/Att||Comp %||QB Rating||TD %||INT %|
|Cam Newton||Sack %||Yrds/Att||Comp %||QB Rating||TD %||INT %|
As you can see, when matched against their career averages, all of these quarterbacks have experienced significant statistical failings in 2013. Especially take note of the sack percentages. This will largely explain the rest of the data.
Which one of these players would you say is currently the most clear cut lock to be a Hall of Fame Inductee one day? I think we can all agree that Tom Brady is the obvious answer. Now, take a look at his 2013 sack rate compared to Newton's. That's right, it's half the rate. Yet look at the rest of the statistics. Newton managed to outperform Brady in all but one of the remaining five categories(INT%) despite being sacked twice as often.
To get a more accurate picture of how Newton stacks up against these multiple Super Bowl winning quarterbacks in 2013, I dug a bit deeper into the data. Take a quick look at the chart below.
|Opp Yrds/Pass Att Allowed-Rank||12.0||19.6||15.8||12.0|
|Opp Comp % Allowed-Rank||13.2||18.0||20.0||12.3|
|Opp Total QBR Allowed-Rank||14.8||15.8||16.0||12.0|
|Opp Total QB Hits Rank||13.4||21.0||24.5||9.5|
|Average NFL Rank||13.4||18.7||19.1||11.5|
The purpose of this specific set of statistics is to give you an idea of what each individual quarterback has had to face through their first four(or five) games from a pass defense and pass rush standpoint. I took the total average ranking of the defenses that each quarterback has faced in four main categories: Opponents Yards Per Pass Attempt Allowed, Opponents Completion Percentage Allowed, Opponents Total QBR Allowed, and Opponents Total QB Hits.
The 11.5 final overall Average NFL Rank at the bottom of Newton's column suggests that he has faced more resistance than his contemporaries in 2013 thus far. In other words, this chart validates the first ones because it reveals the fact that Newton has, to a large extent, outshined the other three quarterbacks in spite of encountering more exceptional defenses.
I went into this with an open mind and came away pleasantly surprised. From an individual perspective, Newton is clearly handling adversity about as good as can be expected given his awful circumstances. Ultimately, we can only hope that Gettleman recognizes the importance of keeping the best quarterback we've ever had. From where I stand, the 2014 off-season should be completely dedicated to identifying players who will make life easier for Newton going forward. Otherwise, this franchise will continue to flounder in the throws of mediocrity and irrelevance. Something tells me that Gettleman is smart enough to realize that the answer is already on the roster.
What do you think, CSR?