Cam Newton came into today with 2,605 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, along with another 374 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. Against the Detroit Lions this afternoon, he added 280 more passing yards, one more passing touchdown, four more picks, 37 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Minus the interceptions, the kid is having an impressive rookie campaign, to say the least. All the naysayers, those with long lists of reasons why his skills at Auburn wouldn't translate to the pros, have been largely silenced. Each week, even with a defense giving up 26.3 points per game coming into today (and another 49 against the Lions today) that's largely responsible for the team's 2-9 record, he's shown a leadership and poise that many didn't think would stand up to an NFL defense.
From where I stand, we are in line to see Cam Newton break a handful of pretty important records.
As any DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart owner can tell you, Cam Newton is a huge pain in the hindquarters. Like a huge one. He's taking food out of their children's mouths.
Newton's NINE rushing touchdowns would be MUCH better served in the hands of either one of these fine backs and the draft pick/money their owners spent on them. Either way, big Cam isn't slowing down inside the red zone any time soon. For any tailback lining up behind him: buyer beware.
This is the other favorite pundit game: Since we don't have a handle on this guy, who is he most like that we do?
For instance, we've passed the point of Newton going JaMarcus Russell. He's shown some modicum of an idea of how to play quarterback in the NFL—which Russell never, for even one second, was able to pull off.
However, we can't rule out Newton going the way of Vince Young. Young was highly contentious coming out of college and then silenced the critics by "just winning," despite less than stellar passing numbers. Newton is sort of doing the opposite by putting up impressive statistics but not hanging W's because of the aforementioned awful defense he has to share a locker room with. But if he falters next year and the stats aren't as pretty and Carolina is still losing games, you know the Vince Young comparisons are coming out.
But the potential doesn't end there. He's probably not fast enough to get Mike Vick comparisons, but if his passing stats improve but Carolina just can't win big games, we'll be in Donovan McNabb territory.
However, the one I like the most, especially when thinking of the future, is Tim Tebow. They manage games roughly the same way: tuck and bulldoze when you need yards. Tebow probably won't ever have the same arm, but these two behemoth's are likely to show up next to one another in SportsCenter comparison boxes for many years to come.
We wouldn't have a modern NFL season without being able to constantly ask "The Question" about mobile quarterbacks. You know the set up. And you know the emphasis guys like Dan Marino put on the last word.
"But is he a good quarterback?"
For a lot of the old school crowd, the definition of "quarterback" only extends as far as how well you throw the ball. That's fair in certain respects, but the wear and tear running backs take these days means the mobile quarterback, a guy good for a couple first downs each game with his legs, if not more, is becoming a necessity. Even Aaron Rodgers, with his hell-fire passing attack, still can get scramble yards when he needs them.
We'll see how the pundit-sphere judges Newton.
The one stronghold of Newton support, through the draft and subsequent offseason in which analysts picked the kid apart like a fetal pig, was the Auburn faithful. Rarely did you hear a dissenting word out of anyone sporting the red and blue "A," and at this point, if you know any of them, you're probably getting a flurry of annoying emails with glib subjects like "Curious...did you happen to catch the Carolina game...?"
This is their right. Give it to them.
[Caleb writes for Wired and says other stuff on Twitter]