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Cam Newton escapes; numbers dispel idea of sophomore slump

Carolina Panthers v New York Jets Getty Images

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.

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20 Responses to “Cam Newton escapes; numbers dispel idea of sophomore slump”
  1. voiceofreasonsays says: Sep 8, 2012 5:33 PM

    He’s one dimensional and will get exposed after an offseason of defenses studying him. Rick Mirer 2012.

  2. jimnaizeeum says: Sep 8, 2012 6:08 PM

    voiceofreasonsays
    He’s one dimensional and will get exposed after an offseason of defenses studying him.

    One dimensional…Do you even watch football?

  3. vekin1648 says: Sep 8, 2012 6:11 PM

    Cam is changing the way QBs are being brought up. Literal game changer on and off the field.

  4. raqaiw says: Sep 8, 2012 6:29 PM

    Get that guy another WR before Smith gets too old!

  5. pilot2011 says: Sep 8, 2012 6:31 PM

    the excuse of defenses having tape on Cam Newton and therefore will be able to shut him down is just ignorant… It’s a lazy, make yourself feel better excuse that just doesn’t make any sense.

    There is literally not a single d-coordinator in the league that feels completely better now that there is tape on Newton. That is just silly.

    There is about 10 years on drew brees and tom brady, how’s that tape worked out for opposing defenses?

  6. giantssb42champs says: Sep 8, 2012 6:36 PM

    voiceofreasonsays
    “He’s one dimensional and will get exposed after an offseason of defenses studying him.”

    What an inane thing to say. Please change your name to “voiceofinsanity”

  7. buchopeful says: Sep 8, 2012 6:39 PM

    He will fail, not saying that cuz Im a Buc fan, but he has been studied like never before..he’ll be better next year, but not this year.. lots of pouting gonna happen.

  8. blacknole08 says: Sep 8, 2012 7:09 PM

    Panthers are going to the playoffs this year and will win the NFC South.

  9. myspaceyourface says: Sep 8, 2012 7:20 PM

    Now that he can legally get paid to play, he has nothing to fear.

  10. jh500 says: Sep 8, 2012 7:23 PM

    For an offense to go from 32nd to 5th/7th in a year because of a rookie QB is amazing. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if Newton became the GOAT QB.

  11. dlmcc1010 says: Sep 8, 2012 8:01 PM

    “For an offense to go from 32nd to 5th/7th in a year because of a rookie QB is amazing. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if Newton became the GOAT QB.”
    ———————————————————-

    Woah. The guy is good and I wouldnt expect a sophmore slump. But that statement is ridiculous.

  12. sowcrates says: Sep 8, 2012 9:12 PM

    Simple answer to this question:

    You can have worse numbers in your 2nd season in the league but still be a better player. It’s no coincidence that Sam Bradford and Matt Ryan had very good statistical seasons in their rookie years, whereas guys like Josh Freeman had very, very poor rookie campaigns.

    Can find somebody who watches the games that would say that 2008 Jay Cutler is a better player than 2011? The numbers might lead you to say “yes”, but circumstantial evidence says definitely not.

    Newton won’t be a “slump” of a player, but anybody who thinks he throws for 4000 yards again is mistaken. He had nearly 1500 yards through 4 games, leaving 2500 for the next 12, meaning not much more than 200 yards/game

  13. sowcrates says: Sep 8, 2012 9:16 PM

    And to whoever said it doesn’t matter, having an entire season of film on a player does matter. Came Newton had 2 consecutive games of over 400 yards passing to begin 2011 and a 370 yard game in week 4. He didn’t eclipse 300 yards passing for the remainder of the season.

    Passing yards aren’t everything, but stand up and take notice when a guy was on pace for 6000 yards through week 4 and ended up narrowly eclipsing 4000.

    Film + No locked out offseason = much better defensive preparation for Cam Newton.

    Good player, will still be a solid performer, doubt he throws for 4k again, 21 TDs and 17 ints like last year is certainly a possibility

  14. thepunkyqb says: Sep 8, 2012 9:36 PM

    I have this to say…Michael Vick has been in the league for some years now(even given his dog debacle)and is still a Game Changer when Opposing Defensive Coordinators try to plan for games against the Eagles. That being said(and please don’t crucify me here Eagles fans, I am only giving opinion), he is frail and gets hurt easily, is smaller than Cam and just like Cam can have a tendency to be inaccurate despite his arm strength.

    So, my point is(and I am not a Panthers fan fyi)that Cam is a specimen to behold as far as size goes. He is no Michael Vick and cannot be taken down by half-assed tackles, he can sling the ball pretty damn well and still has the ‘anything is possible’ college mentality(which believe it or not is quite an advantage).

    I do not watch College ball, but I have watched many games that this kid has played in, and let me tell you, he is electric! I wish him only the best and with what his teammates say is an amazing work ethic, he should continue to excel. If he doesn’t get 14 Rushing TDs this year, he should more than make up for that with improved accuracy as well as reading defenses better. A major hinge-point of him succeeding this season will be strongly based on Steve Smiths health though, so they should actively be seeking another proven Wideout to help as a supporting cast. Because when Smith is out, Brandon Lafell and Greg Olsen will not be sufficient enough imo.

  15. raideralex99 says: Sep 8, 2012 9:36 PM

    Stats are for losers …. Seriously the bottom lines are win and losses.
    If Newton can get the Panthers above .500 and his stats go down … He’s doing great.

  16. 6thsense79 says: Sep 8, 2012 9:38 PM

    After immediately silencing all the inane doubters who labeled him as a bust I’m not willing to bet against Mr. Newton now that he has a full off season of preparation and second year in the same offense.

  17. noturavragepunk says: Sep 8, 2012 9:58 PM

    Let me get this right. voiceofreason is hoping rg3 is great basically because newton was, but he doesn’t think newton is good.

    He won’t have a slump because most nfc defenses are terrible.

  18. tgilkeson says: Sep 8, 2012 11:48 PM

    Which is more likely: That Cam Newton would have an improved second season, or that Darin Gantt would have a long non-story on a Panthers player? I vote on the latter, as it seemingly happens every day.

  19. telepatrick says: Sep 9, 2012 12:17 AM

    Cam is a great QB, one who redefines the optimal skill set for the position. Like michael vick on hgh. Look for video game stats coming out of mr newton this year. No one can break this unstoppable iron man. The backfield with Mike tolbert gonna be hot hot hot. Just my two cents.

  20. goodguyattorney says: Sep 9, 2012 11:37 AM

    The comparisons to Vick are ridiculous. Other than having the same skin color and being fast runners they are not comparable quarterbacks. Cam is more like a young Elway or Steve McNair or Steve Young or (I hate to do this) the accused rapist with the decal on just one side of his helmet.

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