Cam Newton: The Best First Two Seasons Ever

This Sunday, Cam Newton will finish his second NFL season. As the final whistle blows in the Panthers' final 2012 contest against New Orleans, Newton will have finished the greatest first two seasons we've ever seen out of an NFL quarterback. And at least in the realm of the regular season, it isn't particularly close.

Newton enters Sunday with the following career statistics: 574-for-969 passing (59.2 percent), 7,672 yards, 40 touchdowns, 28 interceptions; 246 rushes for 1413 yards (5.7 per carry) and 22 more touchdowns. Newton's 8,584 net yards -- including 70 sacks taken for 501 lost yards -- the Panthers star has an exactly 800 yard lead on Peyton Manning's old 7,784 net yardage mark, the previous best for any quarterback in his first two seasons. Newton still has one game left.

Newton's 7.9 yards per attempt ranks fourth (Ben Roethlisberger, Dan Marino, Mark Rypien). His 62 total touchdowns ranks second (Marino). Newton's only major category away from the top: a 2.8 percent intereception rate, still 16th of the 78 quarterbacks since 1933 to start at least 20 games in their first two seasons. Only Andy Dalton attempted more passes than Newton of those above him on the list.

Looking deeper, Newton has compiled 244.2 EPA and 5.04 WPA. In the Advanced NFL Stats era -- dating back to 2000 -- only Aaron Rodgers has more EPA in his first two years as a full-time starter (at least 10 games started). Given the poor quality of the Saints defense this season, chances are Newton will pass Rodgers by Sunday's finish -- Rodgers mustered 246.2 EPA in 2008 and 2009, meaning a +2.0 EPA performance from Newton gets it done. He's hit that mark 11 of 15 times this season.

Newton's 5.04 WPA ranks fifth, behind Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Tony Romo and Daunte Culpepper. A plus-0.61 WPA or better performance Sunday would pass Ryan and leave Newton in second; a plus-0.19 WPA or better performance would pass Romo and leave Newton in third. Although he's managed over 0.61 WPA just once this season, he's hit at least 0.19 nine times.

There are the facts. Newton's statistical accomplishments through the first two seasons of his career will be the most prolific of anything we've seen in the NFL, ever. He compares favorably to Aaron Rodgers -- Newton has arguably been better -- despite Rodgers getting three years to marinate behind Brett Favre.

And yet, we still have writers like's Adam Schein calling Newton one of the NFL's "biggest scrooges," declaring he has to be saved and calling his 2012 season a "public regression" and a "black eye." Can this be anything but pandering to the fans who wish to believe the worst of Newton?

This group and the writers bending their words to please them should stop and take a look at what's happening on the field. Newton has performed to a level nobody could possibly expect out of a quarterback at his age and development point in his career. To see what Cam Newton has done in his first two seasons and call it anything other than fantastic is lunacy, or worse.

Nobody can be sure if Newton will ever win a championship -- likely the only thing he can do to truly silence his critics. Dan Marino, despite his apparent talent and incredible performance, fell short. But of one thing we should be sure: Cam Newton has already accomplished amazing things, and to expect anything less out of the rest of his career is simply wrong.

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35 Responses to “Cam Newton: The Best First Two Seasons Ever”

  1. Chase says:

    While the Newton backlash is absurd, I don't see a good argument for placing Newton ahead of Marino through two years.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Note that this only refers to first two seasons.

    If you look at the first 32 starts, Newton isn't close. A big deal was made about how mathew stafford was the 2nd fastest to 10,000 yards, and up there with marino and kurt warner.
    (stafford was IRed the first 2 seasons, but he is still only 24, only 1 year older than cam)

    Also, if you check out these qbs at 44 games, stafford is 800 yards ahead of marino.

    having said that, it doesn't take anything away from newton, who did have an amazing rookie year.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Cam fucking sucks any QB can pad stats during garbage time

  4. Anonymous says:

    Garbage time happesn when your getting your head beat in.... that has happened to the Panthers only 2 times this year... very little garbage time.. I see your butt hurt

  5. Anonymous says:

    You stupid. Carolina's always in their games.

  6. Anonymous says:

    hahaha u mad!!! Panthers in every game you little bitch

  7. Timothy Beheler says:

    Actually it's really close with Stafford and Newton, after counting sack yards

    Newton - 8584
    Stafford - 8432

    Touchdowns - 66 - 63 in favor of Stafford (Cam has one game left as well)
    Interceptions - 41 - 28 with Stafford leading the way big time. Newton also has a similar QBR through 32 games and has a better Passer Rating then Stafford.

    So Newton has more yards, a better rating, way less in the turnover department and nearly identical marks when it comes to touchdowns and still hasn't played game number 32 yet.

    I'll give the edge to Newton on this one.

  8. Carolyn Rhoe says:

    Dont you just love haters!!! Always focusing on the negatives when the good outweighs. I see Cam and Steve in H.O.F . GO PANTHERS

  9. Anonymous says:

    after 31 starts:

    Comp Att % yards TD INT
    574 969 59.2 7,672 40 28

    Comp Att % yards TD INT
    730 1216 60 8,425 62 41

    So, 22 more TDs, and 753 more yards, 13 more INTs in the identical first 31 starts.

    That is 55% more TDs, and 10% more yards. It's not close.

    And of course, stafford then went on a tear and had a 5000 yard 41 TD 16 int season, it is likely newton will fall further behind in that 3rd season.

    That stafford clearly outgunned newton does not diminish newton at all, he had a terrific start to his career.

  10. bigmouth says:

    @Jack: Excellent post. I'm so sick of the conventional wisdom surrounding Newton's sophomore season. This is precisely the type of analysis I've come to expect from ANS generally and you specifically.

  11. bigmouth says:

    I wonder what percentage of Stafford's yards were to Megatron?

  12. Anonymous says:

    this year, 2000 of them, for 40%.

    A record (~2k yards receiving) that will probably never be broken in a 16 game season.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Considering the type of QB Cam is, it really isn't acceptable to leave his rushing totals out of the equation. I'm pretty sure Stafford has a few more TDs even if you count rushing TDs (Stafford had a few early on, no ? Could be wrong) but the vast difference in turnovers & yards tends to favor Newton once you factor that in.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Good fantasy QB but not a winner. Completely folds under adversity - he has a horrendous record in one-score games. Give me quarterbacks that can win games like Ryan, Dalton and the rookie 3.

  15. U CANT BE SERIOUS says:

    Matt Ryan is a winner?

    now i've heard everything.

  16. Timothy Beheler says:

    With Newton you have to count rushing yards and rushing touchdowns and with those added, he has more yards overall and the touchdowns are very close.

    62 touchdowns in 31 games compared to 66 for Stafford in 32 games. You also have the fact that Newton has turned the ball over about 12 fewer times through those first 31 games. If you look a bit deeper and add in Newton having the better rating and a similar QBR between the two QB's and the advantage goes to Newton but only slightly.

  17. The Hunger Games says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  18. Anonymous says:

    It's not really fair to put the losses on Newton though. Take the first Falcons game this year for example. He got the Panthers the lead, and the Falcons had 59 seconds, no timeouts, and the ball on their own 1 yard line. Newton wasn't at fault when the defense let the Falcons score to win the game.

    Look back at this year and last year, and you will see coaching decisions, bad defense, and missed kicks from kickers have lost the Panthers many more close games than Cam has. And it isn't even close. This team is on the verge of something great with Cam at the helm and the very young defense looking much better in the 2nd half of this season. Better coaching will make them a Super Bowl contender for years.

  19. Anonymous says:

    sure, add in his running, and it's close. a fair point.

    But the point i was making was that as a qb, i.e passing, there is a large difference. Really, what value does a running qb have in the NFL? I think cam is probably one of the few "running" qbs that can be a very good passer. It sure is great to watch though, from a fan's perspective.

    it'll be interesting to see year 3.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Only one set of stats matters. Wins and losses. So far Cam falls far short in that dept.

  21. Anonymous says:

    But wins and losses is a Team Stat. You cannot rate one individual player with wins and losses. Hell, you cannot even rate a complete defense or offense with wins/losses.

  22. Anonymous says:

    To the guy saying Cam pads his stats in garbage time, do you care to post a game log with stats?
    Can't blame him when special teams give up multiple return TDs and miss game winning TDs. Can't blame Cam for punt return fumbles.

    Yeah, too much work to think, right? Just believe ESPN: they have a special on Tebow's nose hair trimmer coming up. Better catch it.

  23. Anonymous says:

    "Only one set of stats matters. Wins and losses. So far Cam falls far short in that dept."

    It's hilarious that a guy goes to a blog called "Advanced NFL stats," and says that the "only set of stats that matters is wins and losses."

    If that's true, why do you read Advanced Stats?
    Just look at the win/loss record ("Vince Young has a winning record as a starter, he must be an excellent QB!"), then spend the rest of your time doing errands, exercising, or socializing!

  24. Anonymous says:

    "But the point i was making was that as a qb, i.e passing, there is a large difference. Really, what value does a running qb have in the NFL? I think cam is probably one of the few "running" qbs that can be a very good passer. It sure is great to watch though, from a fan's perspective."

    Really? So if on 3rd on 5, Drew Brees completes a 5-yard pass for a first down, while Cam Newton in the same situation runs for 5-yards, only the pass counts when evaluating their performance as a QB?

    I'm pretty sure QBs get paid to lead to offense and score points, and fans/coaches don't much care if those touchdowns come via a quick slant or a QB draw.

    With the rise of young "mobile QBs" who can make plays with their arms and their legs (Cam Newton, RG3, Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill, Jake Locker, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, etc.), antiquated thinking like, "Yards only count if the QB throws the ball" becomes even more obsolete.

    Heck, Russell Wilson only threw 1 touchdown pass against the Bills 2 weeks ago, but he also ran for 3 touchdowns. Ask Bills fans if those 3 rushing touchdowns in any way impacted their evaluation of Wilson as a QB (my guess is yes).

  25. Anonymous says:

    "Really? So if on 3rd on 5, Drew Brees completes a 5-yard pass for a first down, while Cam Newton in the same situation runs for 5-yards, only the pass counts when evaluating their performance as a QB?"

    sure, yards are ok. But a qb who can pass well is far far far more valuable than a qb that can run well. Just look at the numbers, stafford has 8425 yards throwing in those 31 games, newton has 1400 yards, which is nice i guess. meh.

    This debate is kinda ironic, seeing as this website is so totally biased towards passing. They even go so far as to claim teams would win 2 more games a season if they only listened and would throw the ball more often. (of course, if someone wins 2 more games, then someone has to lose two more games. oops.)

  26. Anonymous says:

    One major factor that everyone seems to be forgetting is the general inflation of today's passing numbers. Cam has played well, even by 2012 standards, but you can't compare his raw stats to QB's from 10 or 20 years ago.

    Using PFR's era-adjusted passing stats, here are the top QB's in their first two seasons (ranked by ANYA+):

    Marino 143
    Rypien 123
    Garcia 119
    O'Brien 116
    Schroeder 111
    Bulger 110
    Kosar 110
    Cutler 109
    Palmer 109
    Kelly 108
    Manning 108
    Newton 108

    In fairness to Cam, he deserves a bonus for his rushing success, which is not reflected in the above numbers. Subjectively, I'd move him up to #5 or so.

    Dan Marino had BY FAR the best start to a career, with a great rookie year and a historically awesome sophomore season.

  27. OnSolThree says:

    If *a* team passed more, it would win on average two more games a season (though I'm not sure where you're getting that figure from). It's amazing to me how many people read articles on this site and still have *no* grasp of simple statistics/mathematics.

  28. James says:

    Anon, the only reason this site favors passing over rushing is because passing gains more yards per play than rushing. If you read the analysis on this site it favors passing more often until the expected gain for each type of play is equivalent. There is no inherent quality about passing that makes passing yards more valuable than rushing yards.

    Therefore, when evaluating players you must include ALL yardage gained and lost, no matter how it was earned.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Daunte Culpepper got more hate than any great QB I have seen. And he let it get to him. Cris Carter called him the least confident great athlete he had ever met.
    Looks like the hate on Cam is similar

  30. Anonymous says:

    Wins and losses are a QB stat just like it's a pitching stat.

    We here all the time about starting QB's records. A QB will tell you he's judged on wins and losses. You won't here an Olineman say that.

  31. MSL says:

    Been reading some of your response, and the irony is: Cam and the offense would like him to run less and throw even more in 2012. Unfortunately, the offensive line was such (due to injuries or poor performance), where Cam has to run for his life more often, cause the offensive line couldn't block long enough to finish the deeper passing plays (resulting in a missed pass, broken play, throw away or sacks). Watching many other NFL teams, I'd have to say the play calling wasn't that great in many pass situations as well.

    Offensively, the other thing that's not mentioned often enough is: Panther Offensive Coordinator, Rob Chudsinski, actually CHANGED THE OFFENSE (during the summer of 2012 in ANTICIPATION of defenses) with the head coach, to a more READ OPTION based offense (which was actually used sparingly in 2011 as a change of pace, not as a base), going away from the more successful mostly shot gun, under center and 2 TE sets, pro sets of 2011. It was an abject failure, and Rivera didn't change the offense back to the 2011 type, till GM Marty Hurney was fired (i.e.--his jobs was put on notice), and "Whala" Cam starting having elite-like throwing success again during the 2nd half of 2012.

    The Panthers are really a mess in some respects. And Cam, since he's got there, has been the first option, and hasn't been able to rely on a staunch defense, trick offenses (contrary to perception), and a strong running game, the way quarterbacks such as Wilson, Kapernic, Big Ben, Flacco, RG3, etc., has. So that's a credit to him. And it's good he's being compared to Stafford (and it's true--as it's been stated, that the Panthers are in most of their games and Cam is rarely allowed the opportunity to amass cheap yards, coming from behind), cause Cam carries a tremendous responsibility on the offensive, with out having the ultimate bail out Wide Receiver to throw to, in the 6'5", 235lb stud in Calvin Johnson.

    Note on Panther Rush Yds: During 2011, Cam and the Panthers threw for a lot of yards the first half, establishing the pass. Then during the second half of games, and particularly the second half of the season, the run caught up, after teams were geared for the pass. The two played off each other, as the Panthers amassed more points and Cam a higher quarterback rating with less attempts and yards. So though the Panthers rushing yards were high in total for 2011, it was preceded and based off the pass (and not vice versa).

    In 2012: The rushing attack was inconsistent during most of the year. If you take away Cam's almost 800 rushing yds (or his per rush attempt avg), the team really struggled and regressed, due to an assortment of injuries, bad play calling and incorrect formations (i.e. Read option) to run out of. D'Angelo's last game against the Saints was the closest in 2012 the Panthers offense and run game came to resembling the explosiveness of 2011.

    I think this makes Cam's 1st two years more comparable (whether you feel he's actually better or not) to the Marino's, Staffords, Lucks, etc., than to the more highly assisted/protected Russel Wilson, Kapernicks and RG3's.

    Hopefully, for the Panthers, if they keep Rivera, they will learn from their mistakes on what works and what doesn't work. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that will be enough, cause I don't feel Rivera is a super bowl winning type coach. He may not even be a competent NFL coach, based off what Panther fans have seen so far. However, it appears, Panther fans may have another year to find out (Rivera's still hanging on, with no official announcement yet).

    Hopefully, a new GM, will put him on notice--for no tomfoolery, as the firing of Hurney, woke him and the Offensive Coordinator to ceasing the Gimmick Read Option Offense experiment (which is not even as good or as hidden, as the Wash Redskins more deceptive Read Option out of their Pistol, Play Option based Offense).

  32. Anonymous says:

    Everyone wants to talk about the QB when all he is a crank that turns the cogs.. Carolina is a different type of offense than the ones you like to compare. Cam Newton is a mobile QB, you cannot exclude his rushing yards and rushing TD's from him and just talk about what his passing yards do for the team. He isn't a pocket QB and Carolina is not a deep threat offense. Carolina's roots have always been on the ground, running the ball. That was difficult in 2012 and the offensive line failed to hold their line, create running lanes or to protect the QB until things got better later in the season with the new implementations of Coach Chud being overturned. You also have to factor in that Carolina only has 2 go-to receivers in Smith and Lafell. Murphy was not very reliable and Edwards is still adjusting to moving from QB to WR (they still make him take snaps as QB during practice and THAT needs to stop) Olsen is a great receiving threat but he is also often used to block which more often than not, takes him out of the receiver role. In 2012, Cam was forced to check the ball down a LOT to the RB's. Possession time counts more than padding stats, which contrary to what people choose to believe, is not Newton's objective.

  33. James Covington says:

    All you guys comparing Newton to Matthew Stafford I want you guys to keep in mind that Stafford did not play a full NFL season until his 3rd year so "Technically" Stafford still pales in might as well say Stafford sat out his first 2 seasons and then played. Philip rivers waited 2 full years and doesn't even come close to the numbers that Cam has put up

  34. David Sumich says:

    Enter Andrew Luck...

  35. Anonymous says:

    Wins and losses are a QB stat just like it's a pitching stat.

    We here all the time about starting QB's records. A QB will tell you he's judged on wins and losses. You won't here an Olineman say that."

    FACT, pitching wins is, along with RBIs, one of the worst indications of player performance in baseball.

    If you're trying to use that to prove a point, it's a terrible comparison. Pitching wins are a terrible indication of pitching performance (unless you think a pitcher can control run support/bullpen performance/blah blah pitching to the score).

    Here's a fact, Cam Newton turned what was far and away the worst offense of 2010 into a top 5 offense in his rookie year. Cam Newton still holds the record for most overall yards and most overall touchdowns by a rookie. Let's not act like he can control what happens on the defensive side of the ball.

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