Without a doubt, Cam Newton‘s rookie season will go down in the record books as one of the best by a rookie QB in the history of the NFL. However, it is said that it is harder to stay at the top than it is to actually get there, as we have seen many spectacular campaigns being followed by something rather mediocre. Now that coaches and players have seen what Newton brings to the table, you can guarantee that they will be making it more difficult, if not impossible to repeat his incredible first season.
No one is a better example of riding these types of highs and lows than Michael Vick. After a dismal 2011 season, you can bet that Vick and the Eagles will look to bounce back to the playoff caliber team that they were in 2010.
Statistically, Vick still had his second best season in his career and it wasn’t much worse than Cam Newton’s. If we’re focusing on the running game here, Vick averaged 7.8 yds/attempt and 45.3 yds/game compared to Newton’s 5.6 and 44.1, respectively. The glaring difference between the two QBs is the rushing touchdowns that Newton piled on at the goal line. BUT WAIT! You cannot forget that Carolina just brought in the bowling ball from San Diego, Michael Tolbert. This is a huge kink in the plan for everyone who will count on those 14 touchdowns again from Cam. It just won’t happen. Too many defenses will be expecting him to get the ball and now the Panthers will have a very capable fullback to pound the ball in rather than risking their prized QB.
Now, when it comes to the passing game, people really get all hyped up about how Newton was able to throw for over 4000 yards this past season. What they are forgetting to mention is that in four of those games, he didn’t throw for more than 171 yards and had seven games where he barely got over 200 yards through the air. Mike Vick was still able to average more yards per game than Newton and was also able to maintain a better QB rating in the meantime.
This upcoming season, expect more action from DeSean Jackson as he has settled his contract disputes and for the first time been practicing with Vick in the off-season. When the two are clicking on all cylinders everyone, including the fantasy freaks, benefits tremendously. I expect Andy Reid and the Eagles will also make a point to keep Vick on his feet because they know the only way they can hope to stretch the season will be to keep their QB healthy. You should also expect more defenses planning for Newton’s physical abilities and also put more cover on Steve Smith and Greg Olsen, as they are the only threats in the passing game. Lastly, do not forget that the Panthers have added more mouths to feed at the goal line and will ultimately have a negative impact on Newton’s fantasy football stat line. In the end, don’t overlook what we’ve seen before: Vick can and will rise from the ashes above Cam and do it at a much more reasonable draft price.