Cam Newton vs. NFC North Quarterbacks
Cam Newton vs NFC North QBs
Previously we compared Cam Newton to the quarterbacks in the his own division. This time Cam will go up against the NFC North.
There is little question Newton is one of the most physically gifted quarterbacks in the NFL. But to make the jump into the conversation as one of the league's best overall passers, he has to show better consistency and maturity.
The NFC North poses interesting challenges for Newton, he'll face Jay Cutler, Christian Ponder, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers. To evaluate the quarterbacks I chose seven aspects critical to quarterback play.
Accuracy: Much more than just completion percentage, accuracy is a function of a quarterbacks understanding of the game. Does he put the ball in a position where only his receiver can catch it? Does he throw the ball in a way that maximizes the amount of yards his receiver can gain?
Pocket Presence: A great quarterback commands the pocket. Despite being in the eye of the storm, he stands cool, calm and collected, moving around when needed but always calmly delivering the ball to the open man. Quarterbacks with poor pocket presence are jittery, or they have what I call happy feet. Being able to deliver the ball in a muddied pocket is an essential trait of an NFL quarterback.
Arm Strength: One of the most talked about and misunderstood aspects of quarterback play. Arm strength is more than just throwing long bombs (though that a part of it). It's the ability to step up in the pocket and drive the ball down the field with velocity. Many throws aren't made because the thrower is not confident that his arm strength can get the ball to his target.
Leadership: The only intangible trait on the list. The quarterback is the leader of the team and the only player who touches the ball on every play; his impact can't be minimized.
Throwing mechanics: Do his mechanics breakdown when he's under pressure? Is there a fundamental flaw in his delivery? Example: Tim Tebow.
Reading defenses: A good quarterback must be able to identify a defense before the ball is snapped and confirm it post snap. The best quarterbacks are able to adjust their offense to the defensive scheme.
Mobility: Movement is an underrated aspect of quarterback play. He doesn't have to be Michael Vick or RG III, but the ability to move fluidly and still make the pass is an essential quarterback trait.
vs. Jay Cutler Chicago Bears
Accuracy: Accuracy has never been Cutler's issue. Newton is an inconsistent passer; this is one of the areas he has to work on to become an elite quarterback. Cutler>Newton
Pocket Presence: Newton is unflappable in the pocket, his size gives him the confidence to stand tall and his mobility allows him the freedom to flee if necessary. Cutler is more erratic and more likely to move out of the pocket, due in large part to the Bears' hideous offensive line. Newton>Cutler
Arm Strength: Both Cutler and Newton are elite arm talents, but Cutler is on another level. Cutler's arm is a both a gift and a curse. He believes he can make every throw, even when they aren't feasible. Cutler>Newton
Leadership: Cutler's surly disposition has been well documented. Cutler must perform on the field if he is to win over his teammates. Newton is as charismatic as they come, with the ability to rally his team around him. Newton>Cutler
Throwing Mechanics: Both men are solid,but Cutler is the perfect passer. Cutler>Newton
Reading Defenses: Jay Cutler is a power thrower, meaning he relies more on arm strength than timing and rhythm. Cutler’s decision making can be terrible at times. On the other hand, Newton is still in the nascent stages of his career. Cutler>Newton
Mobility: Cutler is more mobile than you might think, but he can't compare to Newton. Newton>Cutler
vs.Matthew Stafford Detriot Lions
Accuracy: Both men struggle with accuracy at times. Newton simply misses throws for seemingly no reason, while Stafford’s inaccuracy is a function of poor footwork. Newton=Stafford
Pocket Presence: Newton is unflappable in the pocket and despite his god given abilities he rarely flees the pocket early to run. Stafford can have happy feet at times and struggles when the pocket is congested. Newton>Stafford
Arm strength: Both men are unbelievable arm talents. Newton puts more touch on his deep ball, while Stafford drives the ball downfield on his throws better. Newton=Stafford
Leadership: Both men can struggle to keep their emotions in check. Newton can be childlike at times when things don’t go his way. Stafford tends to be impatient and force the issue when the Lions struggle. Newton has the potential to be a fantastic leader, as he showed at the University of Auburn. Newton> Stafford
Throwing Mechanics: This is an area where Stafford struggled last year; Stafford has a tendency to throw sidearm, which hurts his accuracy. Newton’s stroke is usually tight and consistent, though he’s been known to struggle with his accuracy. Newton>Stafford
Reading defenses: It’s hard to know how well Cam Newton reads defenses, because he isn’t asked to do it very often. Carolina relies on Newton’s running ability, employing the zone read early and often. Stafford is more than competent at reading defenses, though, he passes so often that the law of averages say he will make more mistakes than the average QB. Stafford>Newton
Mobility: Newton clearly has the edge here, but Stafford is very capable moving in the pocket and throwing on the move. Newton>Stafford
Overall: Tough one, because both QB’s regressed last year. Stafford’s regression seemed to be more of a function of his team’s lack balance. Newton’s struggles seemed to be more of a maturity issue. Stafford>Newton
vs. Christian Ponder Minnesota Vikings
Accuracy: When Ponder can throw to his first read, he is extremely accurate, the problem comes when the defense takes his first read away. Ponder forces the ball, which makes more inaccurate passes. Newton can struggle with accuracy as well, but it’s more of a function of inconsistent mechanics. Newton>Ponder
Pocket Presence: Ponder commands the pocket, he’s very mobile, and throws with accuracy when he has a clean pocket. Ponder also has a knack for eluding defenders while inside the pocket. Newton, as discussed earlier is unflappable in the pocket. Newton>Ponder
Arm Strength: Ponder has a solid NFL caliber arm, he’s worked hard to improve it since he was drafted in 2011. Ponder struggles on deep throws because he doesn’t have enough velocity on the ball. There’s no comparison here, as Newton has one of the NFL’s strongest arms. Newton>Ponder
Leadership: At Florida State Ponder was the undisputed leader of the team. It’s been much harder in the NFL. Ponder enters his second full year at starting quarterback, overshadowed by the phenomenal Adrian Peterson. Newton has more pressure to lead the Panthers, while Ponder can rely on Peterson. Newton>Ponder
Reading defenses: Ponder has a tendency to predetermine where he wants to go with the ball before the snap. He also struggles to go through his progressions and forces the ball to his receivers. Newton is a work in progress, but is much smoother. Newton>Ponder
Throwing mechanics: Ponder has a great throwing motion and throws equally well running or in the pocket. Newton can struggle with his mechanics at times, but compensates with his arm strength. Ponder>Newton
Mobility: Ponder is very mobile, he has a knack for escaping defenders and throws well on the run. Newton is one of the most dangerous running threats in the NFL. Newton>Ponder
vs. Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers
Accuracy: Rodgers is the cream of the crop in many areas, accuracy foremost among them. Rodgers has pin point accuracy, which allows him to excel when he’s blitzed by opposing defenses. Rodgers>Newton
Pocket Presence: Rodgers is a genius in the pocket, and his mobility allows him to make throws that most quarterbacks can’t make. Rodgers>Newton
Arm Strength: Rodgers has the most elite arm in the league. What separates Rodgers from other quarterbacks is the zip he puts on the ball. Newton’s top five, but Rodgers’ arm is one of the strongest in the history of the league. Rodgers>Newton
Leadership: Few players have had to face the challenges Rodgers has. Following Brett Farve is a daunting task, not only did Rodgers excel but he’s surpassed Favre, earning the respect of his teammates and fans alike. On top of that he’s a Super Bowl MVP. Rodgers>Newton
Reading Defenses: Rodgers is one of the few quarterbacks in the NFL who can still create a play when the defense wins strategically. His running ability aids in this cause, but also his arm talent allows him to throw the ball downfield in tight windows. Rodgers>Newton
Throwing mechanics: You don’t get to be considered the most talented quarterback in the league without proper mechanics. Rodgers is a machine; he could be used as a teaching tape on how to throw a football. Scarier, Rodgers may throw better on the run than he does standing. Rodgers>Newton
Mobility: I'm going to make a controversial choice here, so hear me out before you start banging your keyboards. Mobility for a quarterback, is a function of how it can assist him in making a play. Newton is the better athlete and better runner, but Rodgers' mobility is special, no quarterback throws better on the run and Rodgers uses his mobility to create big plays. Newton may run for 20 yards, while Rodgers will scramble and throw a 40 yard pass. Rodgers>Newton
Up Next:NFC West QBs
The NFC West will pose interesting challenges for Newton, including one of the men who stole his thunder last year, Seattle Seahawks quarterback, Russell Wilson.