Cam Newton's Carolina Panthers Debut: Greatest Ever?

Tyler McAdamsContributor IISeptember 12, 2011

“What!??”

That was my reply to a text from my dad, informing me that Cam Newton had thrown for 400 yards passing.

I tuned in for the beginning of the game and watched Newton stand cool in the pocket and throw a strike to a wide-open Steve Smith for six points. I didn’t see anything after that. Apparently his game was pretty good. (note: sarcasm)

How significant is this?

Newton possibly had one of the greatest debuts of all-time for a rookie quarterback. His 422 yards passing is the highest total for an NFL quarterback in his first game—ever, shattering Peyton Manning’s previous high of 302 yards. He may not ever best those totals in his career, however long that may be.

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and jump to wild conclusions. For me, I’m going to need to see more from him before deciding. As Christopher Harris of ESPN points out, the Arizona Cardinals secondary is really bad. The Cardinals have ranked in the bottom third in passing defense the past two years and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change.

I’m not trying to take away from what Newton did Sunday, but I do think that it’s a good idea to temper expectations for the rest of this season at the very least.

I understand that using passing yards as an indicator of how great a quarterback’s game was isn’t the best measure, but anytime a guy accomplishes what Newton did, you pay attention.

He tossed two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown while also throwing one interception. The interception was ugly and costly. Arizona scored on the very next play to tie the game. It was a debut for the ages to be sure, although my vote on best debut by a quarterback would go to Fran Tarkenton.

If Newton had led the Panthers to victory (or at least tied the game) on their final drive, perhaps he would have been able to claim the honor of having the greatest debut ever from a quarterback. As it stands, Newton’s pass over the middle came up a yard shy of the 1st down and was eerily reminiscent of the Titans-Rams Super Bowl in 1999.

4th and 5 at ARI 6(Shotgun) C.Newton pass short middle to M.Goodson to ARZ 2 for 4 yards (P.Lenon).

The Panthers did indeed lose the game, possibly affecting Newton the most of all. Maybe one of the most impressive things to note is that Newton did all of this on the road. Newton, amidst all the controversy surrounding him in college, being the #1 pick, and having a discouraging preseason—turned some doubters into believers. If not that, he at least grabbed their attention.

For now, we’ve seen a glimpse of the ability that Newton possesses. He showed off the arm strength, touch and his athletic ability. We’ll see what he makes of it.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment box below. You can e-mail me suggestions or questions at jtmcadams@aol.com. Follow me on Twitter @JoeSportswriter.

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