A new NFL.com Photo Essay lists the five most consistent and 5 most least consistent QBs in the NFL by passer rating. Note that in the head line for this piece I added in the word ‘passing’ QB rather than leave it general as the anonymous author did. It’s a valid change because the only measure used in the ‘analysis’ is QB passer rating. So obviously passer rating isn’t everything considering the Panthers went 11-5 last season.
Cam Newton has a 61-47-1 record as a starting QB in the NFL.
He also has a 3-4 record in the NFL playoffs. I expect Newton to improve both of those marks in 2018 in spite of this inconsistency.
Yes even the staunchest Panthers fan has to admit Newton has been inconsistent as a passer. He is a career 58% passer with a season high of just under 62%. Yet those of us that have watched him play since he was a rookie know it is a little deeper than that.
First off Newton is a very good deep ball passer. But the deep pass game is not kind to QB passer completion rates. Actually CSR’s Jon Delong laid out this argument last year.
It stands to reason that the more frequently a quarterback throws the ball deep, the lower his accuracy rate will be. Cam struggled a bit with his accuracy throwing the ball within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage, but he was terrific in every other range. He was the second most accurate quarterback in the league in the 11-20 range and the eighth most accurate on passes that traveled more than 20 yards in the air.
So to call Newton the most inconsistent QB in the NFL without the context is very misleading. Newton obviously brings much more to the table, a power running game from the QB position never seen before by the league. Yet he still has to make good decisions, protect the football and execute plays, even if they are more run than pass. Newton may be inconsistent as a passer and maybe he always will. It doesn’t mean there aren’t 2 dozen teams out there in the NFL that wouldn’t jump at the chance of adding him to their roster.
The truth is if Newton should get his passer rating up over 65% look out NFL! He averaged just under 60% when the Panthers went 15-1 in 2015. Of course that was bolstered by his running ability but still. The less reliant on Newton’s legs the Panthers offense is the more successful I think they can be. That way when they truly need Newton’s legs to get that last yard, whether it is for a first down or a TD, Newton can still get it.
The 2018 is setting up to be a banner year for Cam Newton and the Panthers offense imo. They have released the ‘Shula shackles’ (a reference to former Panthers OC Mike Shula) and replaced them with the genius of Norv Turner. I think if anyone can unlock Newton potential as a passer it is Turner. What I’m alluding to here is that the final factor affecting Newton’s passing has been the play calling. We’ve had some real head scratchers in the past. One week the offense looks well oiled, the next it sputters. Much of that can be attributed to game planning. Again, I expect Turner to change that.
So tear him down if it makes you feel better Mr. Anonymous NFL writer. In the end it won’t make you sleep any better. Unless of course you get on the Newton train now. It’s good to be a fun ride.