By Dillan Straight
Despite the endless allegations, first overall pick pressure, and the entire fate of a franchise on its last leg, Cam Newton is changing the way of the modern quarterback.
Sure we could break down his “believed” allegations, his Heisman acceptance speech, or just get down to the good stuff and talk about how Cecil Newton is up for the nomination as “Top Helicopter Parent of the Year Award.” But that’s already been ripped, shattered, and torn by every sports writer to the edge of the world and back, so let’s break into Sir Cam’s most recent endeavor – revolutionizing the QB position.
In his final season at Auburn or in Cam’s case his third start as quarterback for an entirely different football program; Newton posted ungodly numbers. Passing for 2,854 yards, securing 30 touchdowns (completing 185 out of 280 attempts – 66.1% completion) while also leaving defenses scrambling in rushing for 20 touchdowns and 1473 yards on the ground. Newton took over for Auburn as he led the Tigers to a National Championship in subduing Oregon and “their basketball-like scores” in a 22-19 win for the title.
Upon landing the first overall pick for the 2011, the Carolina Panthers looked past the maelstrom of allegations while Jerry Richardson did everything but openly admits Ron Burgundy-esque “Jimmy Clausen was a bad choice!” and take Newton with the top pick.
Let the work ethic ensue. With the lockout looming like a Roger Goodell hard-hit fine, following the draft Newton took advantage of his given free time in 12 hours a day at the IMG Madden Football Academy, improving his craft and working two hours a day with former Panther quarterback Chris Weinke to improve his looks.
So how does his Newton’s duel-threat quarterback play to work in the big time?
Newton made his debut on Sept. 11, 2011 as the Panthers played the Arizona Cardinals on the road, moving up in to the starting spot on the depth chart only days earlier; Newton aired it out more in the Valley of the Sun that could only be rivaled in his performance of throwing laptops out of a Florida dorm room. Newton passed for 422 yards (24-37 completion), securing two touchdowns and one interception in a 28-21 lost to Kolb and the Cardinals, but could walk away proudly with that famous smile – setting a rookie record outing in the process and passing Peyton Manning as the first rookie to throw for 400+ yards in his first game (110.4 quarterback ranking).
Newton’s other skill in pounding the ground if all else fails hasn’t been lost either, rushing for 160 yards on 40 carries to secure five touchdowns. While some of those did come in end zone situations where he just snuck by a slumbering defense, Newton is showing a new path for a quarterback phase set in motion. A game once ran by the Bradys, Brees, and Mannings of the world where any accurate and strong arm could carry you to the playoffs are now being challenged by the new class of quarterbacks that bring a new tangible to the game.
The duel threat quarterback is certainly nothing new, just look at Michael Vick’s style of play and how he burned defenses in more ways than Shanahan has starting running backs. Despite Eagles strong “boasting” and taking a note from Lebron Jame’s arrival to Miami speech, and the Eagles currently going 1-4, Vick is still producing as he’s able to mix and mash through defenses to secure first downs on a moments choosing. He’s a vintage Vince Young, or more relatively, someone who isn’t just playing upon his waning athleticism at this point of his career.
Cam Newton is the first of many to lead into this new age of modern football. Other candidates to possibly follow include the incredibly versatile Denard Robinson of Michigan (2010: 1702 yards and 14 TDs) Nebraska’s young buck sophomore Taylor Martinez (2010: 965 yards and 12 TDs) despite playing an extremely limited season last year following a midseason injury, and Mississippi State’s Chris Relf (2010: 713 yards and 5 TDs) who brings an added dimension with dynamic pocket control and mobile game.
While the chance of these quarterbacks to make the jump as a true dual-threat quarterback from is yet to be scene of course, if Cam Newton proves successful in his style – many owners and general managers are sure to make note and view this as new movement.
Only Warren Moon would find those results appalling.
Contact Dillan Straight, sports editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.