Can Packers’ Defense Stop Cam Newton… on the Ground?
Now in his seventh season, quarterback Cam Newton has started almost every Carolina Panthers game in that time. His lifetime passing stats are not terribly impressive, in fact neither are his stats for 2015 – when he was named the NFL’s MVP.
For his career, Cam has a completion rate of 58.6, average yardage per attempt of 7.36, 153 TDs and 90 interceptions, and a passer rating of 85.6. Decent, but far from great. In his MVP year, those numbers were up, but not by a great deal: 59.8 completion percentage, 7.75 average yardage, 35 TDs, 10 interceptions, and a rating of 99.4 – the latter being his best ever.
This year, Cam’s passing stats are down from his career averages, including only 6.77 yards per attempt, 17 TDs versus 12 interceptions, and a rating of 81.9 – the latter number ranks him just 26th among QBs to date for this season.
Green Bay shouldn’t be too concerned about Newton’s passing ability. It’s his running talent that’s worrisome. He’s a constant threat to take off running, on either planned or unplanned plays. As a rusher, his career average is 593 yards per season. In 2015, he was up to 636, and he was over 700 yards in each of his first two years.
Newton the top-ranked rushing quarterback in the league again this year, ranking behind 24 running backs – the next ranking QB is Russell Wilson, who is over 100 yards behind him. Wilson ranks 33rd, Tyrod Taylor is 47th and Alex Smith is 49th. Cam has had five runs of 20 or more yards, including one of 69 yards. He’s run for 35 first downs. His rushing average is 5.9 yards per carry. He’s also fumbled three times.
As the season has unfolded, Cam has become more run-oriented than ever. His top performance had once been in week 6 against the Eagles: 11 carries for 71 yards. Then in week 9, he reeled off 86 yards in nine carries against the Falcons. He topped that the following week, with 95 yards in just five carries against the Dolphins. Against Minnesota on Sunday, Newton had another strong outing: 11 carries for 70 yards.
With 3,566 rushing yards in less than seven years, Cam already ranks seventh all-time among QBs. He’ll almost certainly top leader Randall Cunningham – whose total is 4,928 yards – within the next three years. Between these two are: Steve Young, Michael Vick, Fran Tarkenton, and Steve McNair – who Newton trails by just 24 yards.
Believe it or not, Cam’s passer rating for the most recent eight games has been below 67 five times, and only exceeded 100 twice. That averages out to 74.2 – over that same stretch Brett Hundley is at 78.
If the Packers’ defense can limit Cam’s rushing yardage, they’ll stand a good chance of winning on Sunday.