Blog Entry

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 16: Cam's the GOAT

Posted on: December 24, 2011 7:37 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 1:43 pm
Posted by Will Brinson

Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action, figures out the winners and losers and asks the big questions. Slightly condensed version this week as it's the holidays. No podcast, no picture of the week and only eight questions. Blame Mrs. Brinson if you're so inclined. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter.

The Greatest Rookie Season Ever?

That's right. The greatest rookie season ever is precisely what Cam Newton's going to wrap up in Week 17 against the Saints a game of no real consequence when it comes to his legacy as the best rookie in NFL history.

There should be no argument that Cam's season, even without the final week, goes down as the greatest season by a rookie quarterback in history. He has the record for most passing yards in a season (again, with a week to go) by a rookie. He has the record for most passing yards in a game by a rookie. He has the record for most rushing touchdowns in a season by any quarterback.

Of the seven rookie quarterbacks with 3,000 passing yards, Newton doesn't have the most passing touchdowns, but he doesn't have the most interceptions either. There shouldn't be any question that his rookie year is the greatest by any quarterback.

As far as other rookies go, you could argue for Eric Dickerson (more than 2,000 total yards and 20 touchdowns in 1983), Dick Lane (14 interceptions, two pick sixes for Night Train in 1952), Randy Moss (17 touchdowns and 1,313 receiving yards in 1998) or Lawrence Taylor (9.5 sacks -- before they were even counted -- in 1981) if you want.

But none of those guys dealt with the complexities of running an offense. None of those guys dealt with a lockout-shortened offseason. None of those guys performed the way they did under the intense scrutiny of 2011 Twitteratiland. None of those guys carried the expectations of the No. 1 overall pick who was supposed to save a franchise ... or cost a GM his job simply because no one was sure how good they'd be. None of those guys inspired the fierce debate that Newton did leading up to being drafted.

Cam's rejuvenated a franchise that was dead in the water and he might be a top-10 quarterback in the NFL right now. It's been a marvel to watch him perform and it's insane to think that there was a debate as to whether or not the Panthers should take him.


Matthew Stafford: The Lions are in the playoffs. That's worthy of "winner inclusion" all by itself. But the Lions were secretly facing a pretty bad situation, with the white-hot Chargers and the very good Packers over the next two weeks. 9-7 and getting snuck out of the playoffs wasn't out of the question at all. Until Stafford got his surgical precision on and shredded the San Diego secondary, going 29 of 36 with 373 yards and three touchdowns. Stafford's next up for the "is he or isn't he elite" debate.

Pete Prisco
: Yes, my colleague and former life coach (Pete doesn't know it, but I fired him when he suggested I not wear socks with my loafers). Prisco's the only guy that I know of who refused to budge off his negative stance of Tebow during the Broncos winning streak. There might be an argument that Pete's stubborn and you might be inclined to call him a "hater" but with the way that Tebow egged on Saturday, there are going to be a LOT of people ripping him over the next week. And Prisco's the only one of those people who's stood his ground the whole time.

Kevin Kolb:
The Cardinals were eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday and that means Kolb avoided his worst possible nightmare. That would be "John Skelton marching Arizona to an improbable postseason run and the team deciding to bail on Kolb's albatross of a contract." Instead, Arizona now plays out the string and regroups for 2012, likely with Kolb as the starting quarterback for at least another year.

Matt Forte
: What's that, you say? Forte didn't play on Saturday. Oh, I know that. I also know that if the Vikings hadn't handed Adrian Peterson a monster contract before the 2011 season, things would be awkward right about now. Over the past month, the Bears have collapsed without Forte and Jay Cutler, meaning he's beefed up his leverage as an important player for the franchise and, with the Peterson injury, justified his rationale for wanting a new contract.

Jerome Simpson: Did you see his touchdown catch?

Turner's time might be up in San Diego. (US Presswire)


Norv Turner: A lot of credit goes to the Lions for the way they played on Saturday. Detroit is a very good team and a formidable opponent. But how can the Chargers not show up, especially knowing that the Broncos lost and that they were either a Bengals/Jets pair of losses or a Broncos loss in Week 17 away from making the playoffs? That's still not "controlling your own destiny" but out of everyone who was gifted an early Christmas present during the early games on Sunday, Turner and the Chargers were probably the luckiest. A 24-0 halftime deficit in the most critical game of the season isn't going to inspire any Spanos family members to keep their pink slips tucked away.

Jason Garrett
: No one's going to blame him for losing to Philly. That's what happens with Stephen McGee under center. But holy cow does Garrett have the hardest decision -- and the most scrutiny -- of his short career coming up over the next week. The Giants and Cowboys will play in Week 17, with a trip to the postseason and a division championship on the line. Tony Romo will almost certainly play, but will he be effective? Can Garrett gameplan in order to play to Romo's injury? Will he cough up a shot at the postseason? These are the ways we will judge him after next week's game. And by "we" I obviously mean "Jerry Jones and his potentially angry family."

Adrian Peterson
: AP's leg injury on Sunday was so brutal that I even feel like a jerk putting him in the "losers" section. But if you saw the horrific nature of Peterson's injury, you know precisely why he's not feeling like a winner right now. The Vikings announced after the game that it was a sprained knee but -- all due respect to Minnesota -- that's just not believable at all. The multiple reports that it's a torn ACL (and potentially worse) make a lot more sense. It's just sad that Peterson could miss significant time because he was playing in a meaningless game for a three-win team.

Rex Ryan: Ryan spent all week running his mouth about the New York-New York rivalry and when push came to shove, his guy Mark Sanchez fumbled on the Giants goal line and threw a "pass" to an offensive lineman that resulted in a safety in a devastating loss on Saturday. The Darrelle Revis/Antonio Cromartie combo got torched by Victor Cruz (that's his name, right?) and Brandon Jacobs got to say "It's time to shut up, fat boy." That's just embarrassing. Oh, right, and the Jets lost control of their own destiny with respect to the playoffs. It wouldn't be nearly as mortifying if Ryan hadn't run his mouth all week.

Pipedreams: Just like San Diego, the Eagles were very much a longshot to make the playoffs. But I'm telling you, there was a chance. Then the Giants killed that chance (adding to their winner-y-ness) with a win over the Jets. That means Week 17 is no longer a dream scenario for fans of long shots, because both early-season favorites are now removed from any chance of a postseason berth. You don't have to root for the Eagles or Chargers. In fact, you can root against them. But if you don't like ridiculous storylines and clowning around with playoff predictors then we're not friends.

The Big Questions

The new Tebow narrative could be awkward. (AP)

1. What's the new Tim Tebow narrative?
No, but it's on life support (and Prisco wants to pull the plug!). Look, Tebow can still win against Kansas City in Week 17, or even lose as long as the Chargers beat the Raiders. But think about how quickly this narrative could be absolutely flipped on its head: if Kyle Orton, the man Tebow replaced, beats Tebow in Week 17 because Tebow can't win late, and the Raiders beat the Chargers and make the playoffs, the Broncos new narrative will be as chokers. No, really, it will. And that is nuts when you consider where we were just two weeks ago.

2. Why does Leslie Frazier keep playing guys who are hurt?
NO CLUE. But this is a story that's flown under the radar for the past few weeks and it culminated with AP's injury against Washington, as well as the concussion that Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder suffered on Saturday. The Vikings are 3-12 after winning on Christmas Eve, but they didn't even need Peterson or Ponder to put up points -- it was all Joe Webb against the Redskins. Of course, winning, at this point, should be secondary. Frazier's top priority should be the health of his franchise quarterback and running back. Instead, these guys keep getting trotted out with injuries late in a lost season. That's not the sort of thing that keeps a job safe for long.

3. Did Raheem Morris get fired on Saturday?

Almost certainly. The Panthers went out and walloped Tampa Bay 48-16 in Charlotte, meaning that the Bucs lost their eighth game in a row.  Worse than the losses is the way they've happened: over the last four games, the Buccaneers have been outscored 158-64. They've given up 40 points to the Panthers and Jaguars and have topped 20 points just once since their trip to London in late October when things really started to unravel. It's an embarrassing collapse down the stretch and it's hard to blame the Glazer family and GM Mark Dominik when (not if) they fire Morris.

4. Anyone else getting fired?
Gotta think that Turner's done in San Diego now and that Romeo Crennel's the only interim hanging around. I can't buy that Jim Caldwell's saving his job so I'd add him to the list too. But I think any questions about Chan Gailey can now be reserved for a while, given the way he dismantled the Broncos on Sunday.

5.  Why should Tom Brady be worried?
Because his offensive lineman are dropping like flies. And while the Patriots are going to continue being good because that's what the Patriots do, there's absolutely cause for concern in New England if Logan Mankins and Matt Light are hurt for any length of time. As you may be aware, this isn't a team predicated on playing any sort of defense, and if they can't protect Tom Brady, there's little chance of them advancing in the postseason.

5. How mad are the 49ers?
Furious. And it doesn't matter that they won, because they gave up a rushing touchdown to Marshawn Lynch. They might hold the record for most games without one, but you know they wanted to make it the entire season. They did not.

6. Am I going to have to watch Matt Flynn on Christmas night?
Not as much as you might have feared. The 49ers won against the Seahawks on Saturday, and that means Green Bay hasn't clinched the top seed yet. Which means that Aaron Rodgers will stay in the game against the Bears for the entire game, barring an absolute Packers blowout.

7. Was Simpson's catch the play of the year?
Yup, it sure was. Maybe not the "play of the century" or anything insane like people are saying, but it was an absolutely bananas catch and it deserves incredible props. Watch -- it's going to be the type of thing you talk with your relatives about on Christmas. That's the way you can truly judge the greatness of a play.

8. Should Ben Roethlisberger play next week?
No. There's just no need. Joe Flacco and Ray Rice handled the Browns just fine in Week 16, and Charlie Batch/Rashard Mendenhall can do the same in Week 17. Rest the guy, run the ball, cross your fingers that Cincy can summon the strength to beat the Ravens on the road and let Roethlisberger rest.


I mean duh. Did you notice I liked it?

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Since: Jul 29, 2009
Posted on: December 27, 2011 6:37 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 16: Cam's the GOAT

Mark Sanchez must be one of the greatest QBs of all time then according some bozos on here. He went to the AFC Championship in his first 2 years. If the Jets miss the playoffs, it will the first time Sanchez doesn't make it to the AFC Championship.

Can anybody else see how DUMB it is to say one rookie is better than another because of TEAM wins and success?

Since: Mar 8, 2008
Posted on: December 27, 2011 3:09 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 16: Cam's the GOAT

Cam Newton has been fantastic, that cannot be argued. He has far surpassed all the predictions of how he would adapt to NFL play. All the "expert" analysts and former players who doubted him are now falling all over themselves praising him. The Panthers were beyond awful last year, and they'd be just as awful this year except for the presence of Newton. He has made them relevant and given them hope for the future. All that, and he seems to be having great fun doing it.    

Since: Dec 4, 2010
Posted on: December 27, 2011 2:46 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 16: Cam's the GOAT

Greatest NFL Rookie season ever............Eric Dickerson.

Since: Oct 13, 2006
Posted on: December 27, 2011 2:20 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 16: Cam's the GOAT

Both ben and dalton came into better situations and ben's numbers as a rookie 17td 11int 2621yds show that he was more of a game manager. Trent dilfer won a superbowl are you gonna say he was better than marino. I don't think he is the greatest rookie and i have troubole saying that he is the greatest rookie QB. But, i have no trouble saying that he is better than those two.

Since: Oct 13, 2006
Posted on: December 27, 2011 2:18 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 16: Cam's the GOAT

Both ben and dalton came into better situations and ben's numbers as a rookie 17td 11int yds show that he was more of a game manager. Trent dilfer won a superbowl are you gonna say he was better than marino. I don't think he is the greatest rookie and i have troubole saying that he is the greatest rookie QB. But, i have no trouble saying that he is better than those two.

Since: Nov 11, 2011
Posted on: December 27, 2011 1:45 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 16: Cam's the GOAT

Andy Dalton took his team further. Just like Cam he had little time to get ready. Cam looked like a rookie at times but Andy looked like a seasoned pro all year. And as for greatest rookie season I would give that to . He made it to the championship game. Cam, while doing well was no where near Andy or Ben.

Since: Dec 1, 2006
Posted on: December 27, 2011 11:37 am

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 16: Cam's the GOAT

Cam has had an incredible season no doubt. BUT, Andy Dalton desreves SERIOUS consideration for ROY.  Dalton has played 6 of of games against Top 5 Defenses,  9 of his 15 games against Top 10 Defenses (Pitt 2, Balt at Balt, Clev 2 , SF, Jags at Jax, Hou, Sea at Sea),   Thats a rough stretch.   Cam has played only 2 of his 15 games against defenses in the Top 10 and played poorly against them (158 vs Jax, 149 vs Hou).   Just saying the stats Cam has put up should be tempered based on the competion he's faced. 

Since: Apr 25, 2007
Posted on: December 27, 2011 2:12 am

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 16: Cam's the GOAT

Whether or not the team makes the playoffs doesn't change the season the player had.  Cam had a phenomenal rookie season by all measures.  Calling him a fraud is just stupid - you wish you could do what he did.

Since: Sep 5, 2011
Posted on: December 26, 2011 10:02 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 16: Cam's the GOAT

Cam's passing is going to have to improve considerably for him to not be the next mike vick.  at some point, being more of a running threat than passing threat as an NFL QB will stunt your team's growth.

Why do people compare Cam to Vick? Cam is no way like Vick at all, they both play different styles then each other. First Vick looks to run first and throw later more often then not. Cam looks to throw first then when all else fails then he runs. Have you ever watched Cam play or are you just watching highlights on sportscenter? Cam should be compared to Randell Cunningham or Steve Young then comparing him to Vick. I think Cam will be alot better then Vick because his passing is by far better then Vicks and its Cams first year, plus has a much better deep pass then Vick. If Carolina can build a defense around him then they have something special brewing up down there.

Since: Sep 5, 2007
Posted on: December 26, 2011 5:42 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 16: Cam's the GOAT

And by the way, you know you suck when you're passer rating is lower than a WR (Antwaan Randle El) in the Super Bowl.

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