On the surface, both Cam Newton and Michael Vick appear strikingly similar. Both are mobile, athletic quarterbacks who have revolutionized the position, both have had success on the collegiate level, both were drafted by teams looking to jump start the offense and, yes, both of them have been the center of controversy.
However, that is where the similarities end.
Newton had a vastly better rookie season than Vick did, but then again, Newton started all 16 games in his first year compared to Vick's eight. Newton broke records seemingly each week and took home AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
While Newton and Vick have played crucial roles to the success (and failure) of their respective teams, Vick has managed to keep the Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) in their division race. Newton, on the other hand, has looked like a mere mortal through the first four games of the season for the Carolina Panthers (1-3).
Would it be fair to refer to Cam Newton as Michael Vick 2.0? No.
Cam Newton is his own quarterback and while he shares a skill set similar to Vick, Newton is attempting to recreate the position and reset the bar.
Vick was something of an anomaly when he broke out on the scene in 2001. He was able to lead the Falcons to the playoffs in his second year but in six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, he only got them there twice. While Newton will probably miss the playoffs for the second year in a row, he has the advantage of being young and talented enough for the Panthers to build around him.
Another way Newton redefined his position is despite his ability to make plays with his feet, he will do what he can to make the throw first. Early on in Vick's career, he seemed to always scramble the minute the pocket collapsed. With that being said, Newton has done more in his first year than Vick did in his first three seasons.
Newton passed for 4,051 yards while it took Vick 28 games to eclipse that mark. It should be noted that Vick did miss time in 2003 due to injury. In one season, Newton has matched Vick's career high with passing touchdowns in a season at 21 and everyone is aware that Newton owns the rushing touchdown mark for a quarterback with 14.
By the Numbers
Newton: 16 games 310-for-517 4,051 yards 21 TD, 17 INT; 126 rushes, 706 yards 14 TD
Vick: 28 games (2001-03) 331-for-634, 4,306 yards 22 TD, 14 INT; 184 rushes, 1,321 yards, 10 TD
It would only make sense that opposing teams would be able to prepare for a mobile quarterback given all the headaches Vick gave them prior to Newton making his debut in Carolina.
Another thing to consider is the size difference between the two men. Newton stands at an imposing 6'5”, 245 pounds while Vick is 6'0” and 215 pounds.
Newton is strong and has a reputation for bulldozing his way for a first down or a score. It's a different story with Vick. It doesn't help that he has had to run for his life in many games and subjected to injury due to his playing style. Because of this, Vick has has only one full season under his belt (2006).
Currently, both quarterbacks have found themselves struggling. The only difference is that the Vick-led Eagles are in first place of their division while the Panthers are in third and three games out of first in theirs.
By the Numbers, Part II
Newton: 68-for-107, 1,013 yards, 4 TD, 5 INT; 33 rushes, 167 yards, 3 TD
Vick: 88-for-155, 1,146 yards, 4 TD, 6 INT; 27 rushes, 130 yards, TD
Is it a fluke for both of them? Perhaps.
Newton is taking his lumps in a so-called “sophomore slump” and seems to be trying to do too much by himself. That is not to say he hasn't had his good games this season. Newton is at his best—and the Panthers have generally won—when the game plan is balanced and Newton does not have to do much. Plus, Carolina usually benefits in games where he doesn't throw an interception.
Vick hasn't had a much luck himself and through four games he has thrown six interceptions compared to four touchdowns. Not a great ratio for a quarterback.
To be fair, neither one has looked spectacular after one month of football.
While Newton is young and has room to grow, Vick is beginning the tail end of his career. Unlike in Carolina, folks in Philadelphia are beginning to grumble about their quarterback situation and looking for other options.
Newton will not be Vick 2.0. If anything, he will rewrite the books and, if he can get his mind in the right place, learn from his mistakes and listen to the advice of his veteran teammates. He has the potential to not only carry the Panthers to new heights but also to set the bar for young quarterbacks who will enter the league down the road.
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