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Packers vs. Panthers: Recap, Grades After Cam Newton's Performance vs. Green Bay

Brooke McGeeCorrespondent ISeptember 21, 2011

Packers vs. Panthers: Recap, Grades After Cam Newton's Performance vs. Green Bay

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    With ESPN.com posting questions such as “Is Cam Newton Already a God?”, we know that this is one quarterback who will be under the limelight for the remainder of the season.

    It’s not known what exactly the reason is behind the massive amount of yards that Newton is putting up. With 422 yards thrown in Week 1’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals and Week 2’s 432 total thrown yards against Green Bay, we may have an elite player on our hands. The Carolina Panthers have lost both of those games, but the rest of the NFL is nervously paying attention to this new rookie QB.

    If this is how they play on a losing streak, could the Pack have held up against a winning streak? Let’s take a closer look at this new specimen we all saw when Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton faced off.

Rising Contender

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    The thing that I have heard the most when people have sought me out to hash out the game is how nervous they were after the first quarter and first half of the Green Bay/Carolina game.

    I can agree that it was a nail-biter, and fans across the state and nation were no doubt looking to each other anxiously across the leather recliners and sectional sofas that adorn our football rec room havens.

    Me? I was excited. Thrilled. Who is this fresh piece of meat that I have failed to heed attention to? I mean yeah, I'm a huge Packer fan—a huge part of my life is writing about them and football in general—but a part of that entails that I at least take the competition seriously and not just dismiss them with a shrug like I had. With every pass that Cam Newton was able to get out of that cannon of his, I sat in awe. Is it possible? Do we have another contender for the throne?

    But now the excitement has passed; now all I want to know is why the heck was it so close of a game? What can we learn from this so that in the future a rookie doesn't almost take down the reigning world champs?

Defensive Coverage

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    Where was our coverage?

    Defensive backs have a hard position. They need to know each and every play called in the game because their coverage is going to vary play by play. If this is an area where Green Bay is lacking, they need to step up the game.

    This might be one area where we realize that the lockout vacation that they took might make them suffer. Only practice and continuous repetition can allow these defensive backs to learn to read the plays and react with the split-second accuracy that is needed to potentially block, tackle or intercept a play that will be out of their reach a second later.

    (I am going to greatly commend the three picks that the Boys From the Bay did make, two of which were made by Charles Woodson.)

    Green Bay should be better than this; whether or not Cam Newton is a star on the rise, he wasn't the whole offensive line. I give the Pack a C+ for defense, only slightly above average.

Apples to Oranges

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    How was the new kid on the block in regards to accuracy?

    Newton completed 28 out of 46 (61 percent) passing attempts in comparison to Aaron Rodgers' 19 completions in 30 attempts (63 percent). We can say this was a case of quantity rather than quality that put him in the 400-plus zone, but honestly the numbers are so comparable we can't lean too sharply to either side. If this is how good the new rookie is doing in comparison to the reigning Super Bowl MVP, that's nothing to frown at.

    There were three interceptions on Newton's behalf though, which, as we've seen from Brett Favre before in the past, can destroy a game in a heartbeat.

    Despite the excellent debut this new quarterback is making, I'm still giving the grade to Rodgers who had zero interceptions and a slightly higher pass completion rating.

    Rodgers: A

Debut Notoriety

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    As if the 432 passing yards wasn't enough to vouch for him in Week 2, this was in fact the second game in a row in which this 400 mark was made. Looking back at the legends, or the luckies, of football's history, we know that this has only happened six other times in such a streak. If he gets another one next week when the Carolina Panthers take on the Jacksonville Jaguars, it will be an NFL record.

    Compare this to some Green Bay Packer rookie debuts:

    In 2007 and 2008, rookie quarterback Aaron Rodgers became the first QB in NFL history to throw more than 4,000 yards in each of his first two seasons as a starter.

    In 2007, Mason Crosby scored the most points in one season as a rookie, raking in 141 points.

    Randall Cobb, currently in his debut rookie season, returned a 108-yard kick in Week 1 to tie an NFL record.

    Jordy Nelson played in every game in 2008 as a rookie, becoming the only Packer to do so and also the only rookie in team history to post 30-plus catches and a 45-plus-yard kick return in his debut season.

    Setting records your first season is never a bad preview of the upcoming season and career. However, Aaron Rodgers was trained under Brett Favre; you can't top that.

    Grade goes to Rodgers over Newton for rookie debut: A.

Consistency

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    Consistency as a team is something that is pivotal on the field. This is one of Rodgers' strong suits and potentially one that may be Cam Newton's as well—only time will tell.

    So far this year, both teams have played consistently. The Carolina Panthers had amazing offensive plays and strong defenses, but lost both games. They also packed intense plays against their opponents.

    The Green Bay Packers have consistently been able to defend their title and secure wins.

    Newton has thrown for over 400 yards for two weeks in a row; Rodgers was consistent with over 300.

    Packer Randall Cobb continues to contribute with two receptions in each of the first two games. Carolina's Steve Smith has boasted power plays each week as well.

    For consistency I'm giving them both B's. I'm not ruling out the future of the Carolina Panthers, but for now, I want to see more.

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