Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was nearly an unanimous vote for the 2011 Offensive Rookie of the Year. The only other player who received votes was Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who some felt had a realistic shot of challenging Newton for the award.
Despite a very good season, Dalton didn't have the numbers to compare to the type of season Newton put together. Both quarterbacks attempted around 516 passes, but Newton threw for nearly 700 more yards. His completion percentage was also higher, completing 60 percent of his throws compared to Dalton's 58 percent.
The throwing touchdown to interception ratio was also close between these two candidates. However, Newton added 14 rushing touchdowns to his stat total. Offensive skill players need to find a way into the end zone in order to make a true difference. Compiling 15 more total touchdowns gave Cam Newton a sizable lead in the Rookie of the Year race.
Andy Dalton's supporters will quickly point out his 9-7 record as a starter, compared to the 6-10 season for Cam Newton. Winning football games is definitely a major factor in determining the winner of the various awards. However, when looking at win totals we also need to evaluate each candidate's surrounding talent.
The Carolina Panthers offense did more than enough to win more football games, but their poor defensive play limited them to only six wins. Dalton had the pleasure of playing on a team with an excellent defense. The Bengals defense allowed an average of 20 points per game compared to the 26 points allowed by the Panthers defense. In order to win in the NFL a team has to have consistent play on both sides of the football.
Both quarterbacks have a very bright future, but the Rookie of the Year honors belong to Cam Newton. His all-around strong play and explosiveness is what made him the top candidate. It also helped that he broke the rookie passing record which was held previously by Peyton Manning.