In his first two starts as an NFL quarterback, Cam Newton has thrown for 854 yards, becoming the first rookie to ever have two 400 yard passing games. It’s only been two weeks, but it may not be too early to compare Newton to the greatest rookie quarterbacks in NFL history.
This is exactly what BigLeadSports.com attempted to do when they declared Newton “one of the five best rookie quarterbacks of the modern era.”
Certainly it is still very early, and two games is a small sample size, but already we can tell Cam Newton is special.
Determining the best rookie quarterbacks is not easy. There are many opinions on how to define a great QB season. To narrow the list, we will look at all rookie quarterbacks since the AFL-NFL merger (1970) that started at least eight games. We then ranked those players by Adjust Yards per Attempt (AY/A) which looks at yards per attempt, but adjusts that value based on interceptions thrown*.
Since 1970, Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie campaign (2004) comes out on top with a AY/A of 8.36. However, it is difficult to argue that Big Ben’s season was more impressive than that of Dan Marino who had 2,210 yards in just nine starts and posted a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 3.3.
And while Newton’s TD:INT ratio is less than stellar, we can see that his AY/A is off to a great start. Now we just need to see if he can keep it up…
* Big Lead Sports used Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt which also adjusts for yards lost on sacks. Our feeling is that ANY/A penalizes a QB too much for having a crappy offensive line.
All data via Pro-Football-Reference.com
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