Cam Newton avoided one jinx when he didn’t win the voting to be on the Madden video game cover.
He may be about to dodge another one, as statistical evidence points to the idea of a sophomore slump being a myth.
According to research by the Charlotte Observer, quarterbacks since 2000 who started at least half their games as rookies saw steady statistical improvements their second year.
So while the idea that a lap around the league makes it easier to game-plan a player such as Newton, the numbers don’t back that up.
Of the 13 quarterbacks since 2000 who started at least eight games in their rookie and second seasons, only two – Sam Bradford of the Rams and Matt Ryan of the Falcons – saw a decrease in quarterback rating. At the same time, seven saw their quarterback rating jump more than five points in their second year. There were similar increases in completion percentage, touchdowns and yards, and decreases across the board in interceptions, sacks and fumbles.
“History shows there’s been situations (where second-year quarterbacks struggled) – the sophomore slump was created somehow some way, right?” former Panthers quarterback Chris Weinke said. “But I think the important thing when you’re talking about the quarterback position, the first year is always the toughest. You would think that second year, because of the experience, that you’re going to be better. …
“Now at that position, a lot more’s predicated on your supporting cast, too. And I think that’s the one thing that gets overlooked every once in a while.”
It’s no accident that Weinke mentioned that, as he took way too much blame for the Panthers 1-15 record with him at the trigger in 2001, since he was surrounded by a cast that looked more like an expansion team.
Likewise, Bradford can explain his dip, as he changed offensive systems from Year 1 to 2 (trading Pat Shurmur for Josh McDaniels).
Newton won’t have to worry about that, as the Panthers were able to keep play-caller Rob Chudzinski, though that might be a temporary condition, as he becomes more visible for head coaching jobs.
Still, it broke a streak of four new systems in as many years for Newton, who bounced from Florida to Blinn Junior College to Auburn to the Panthers, and didn’t have the benefit of a normal offseason last year.