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Advanced NFL Stats: Cam Newton Has Had The Best First Two Seasons Of Any Quarterback, Ever

  • Matt Rudnitsky

The narrative is out there: Cam Newton is a big baby. His 2012 was a disaster. He’s regressing. The league figured him out. “It can’t get worse…” (really?).

Of course, this isn’t true. Cam’s maturity is questionable, yes, but the reality is that the Panthers started 1-6 with a tough schedule, and they have a mediocre defense and disastrous special teams.

According to Advanced NFL Stats, Cam Newton has had the best first two seasons of any quarterback, ever.

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)…

Newton’s 5.04 WPA ranks fifth, behind Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Tony Romo and Daunte Culpepper…

Of course, like the “scrooge” thing, this is inconsequential hyperbole — albeit on the opposite, much more rational side of the spectrum. This doesn’t mean Cam Newton will be the greatest quarterback ever, or even that he really has had the best first two years of any quarterback. Nor does it even refute the notion of Cam’s regression. As we know, passing stats are blowing up, which helps explain Newton’s historical edge in all of the standard categories, including yards per attempt. And while having the 16th-best interception rate is impressive, it doesn’t prove that Newton has had the best first two seasons ever. Nor do the EPA and WPA stats hold much weight for historical comparisons. Really, none of those stats do much to prove the case that he’s had the best start ever. Dan Marino had a record-setting 48 touchdowns his second year.

While this is hyperbole, at least it helps prove a point. The notion that Cam Newton isn’t good is just wrong, and he clearly has a chance to be something special. Then again, Newton’s “best two first years ever” thing might be broken by about four quarterbacks next year.

Apparently, though, it’s not a sports article if it isn’t polarizing. You think Adrian Peterson’s having an impressive year, eh? Well, I think he’s only having one of the best seasons ever. Whatchu gon’ say now, columnists?

[Advanced NFL Stats]


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