Some people will try to tell you that the Carolina Panthers have a quarterback problem. But don’t ask me why they feel that way, because such a belief is simply ludicrous.
This past Sunday, Panthers eighth-year QB Cam Newton led the team to a historic 21-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. The win was historic because Carolina trailed 17-0 through three quarters before completing the largest fourth-quarter comeback in franchise history.
Newton was right in the middle of the Panthers’ comeback, completing 16 of 22 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns in the final quarter. As a result, head coach Ron Rivera awarded him the game ball in the locker room following the game.
I didn’t really notice any Carolina fans blasting Newton on social media after the contest. However, you can bet that they would have had the Panthers lost. But even if that had been the case, I truly feel that blaming Newton would have been the wrong thing to do.
I don’t know what the deal is, but you wouldn’t hear New England Patriots fans talking about Tom Brady like he’s a scrub. Same with the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers or the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees.
That’s not to say that Newton is a prolific passer like those three. But by that same token, are any of those three comparable to Newton in terms of rushing ability? Absolutely not.
He’s one of a kind, to put it simply. And he already holds several rushing records that may never be broken because, news flash, he’s far from done with his own NFL career.
Newton has the most career rushing TDs by a QB (57). He has the most single-season rushing TDs by a QB (14). He has the most career rushing first downs by a QB (345). And those are just to name a few.
But let’s not discredit Newton’s ability to hurt opposing squads through the air as well. In addition to his 4,577 career rushing yards and 57 career rushing TDs, he also has 26,501 career passing yards and 169 career passing TDs.
Oh yeah, by the way, those 31,078 total yards are the third-most ever by a QB in his first eight seasons behind only Peyton Manning and Dan Marino. Marino is already in the Hall of Fame, while Manning is a future Hall of Famer. And the aforementioned trio of Brady, Rodgers and Brees are also sure-fire Hall of Famers.
But why doesn’t Newton get the same type of love those players get? Is it because he’s African-American, because he doesn’t carry himself like the typical QB, because of his outlandish outfits?
Whatever the case may be, here’s another news flash for you: Cam Newton is a future Hall of Famer too. Based on the numbers alone, he’s more than worthy. But even more important than the numbers is what his sheer presence means to the Panthers’ offense.
Without Newton, the Panthers don’t possess a dual-threat QB who can get things done through the air and on the ground. They don’t have the luxury of letting a 6-foot-5, 245-pounder pick up a first down or a touchdown on third- or fourth-and-short almost at will. And they also don’t get to boast about having a former league MVP (Newton was the franchise’s first and only player to receive that distinction in 2015).
I’m not trying to convince you that Newton is the greatest QB to ever play the game. I’m not even trying to convince you that he’s the best QB in the NFL today. But he’s no scrub. Not even close.
What he is is a once-in-a-generation and perhaps once-in-a-lifetime athlete. And he’s not going to play forever, so let’s appreciate him while he’s still around. That’s what I am trying to convince you of, especially if you’re a fellow Panthers fan.
Just think about everything that Newton has accomplished, and then think about the fact that he’s still just 29 years old. Just compare where the Panthers were with say, Jimmy Clausen, as opposed to now. What’s so bad about four playoff berths and a Super Bowl appearance over the past seven years?
I don’t know, but I do know that the Panthers never had this type of sustained success with anyone else under center.
And like I said, Newton isn’t done yet. His ultimate goal is to bring a Lombardi Trophy to the Carolinas.
Given that he’s still getting better, I’ll be damned if I’m going to bet against him.
But before you go, take a look at something else that QBs don’t typically do:
Yeah, I’d say the Panthers have absolutely no problem at QB.
But feel free to climb back under that rock you’ve been living under.