Shattering The Flacco v. Newton Myth

Flashback Friday Shattering The Flacco v. Newton Myth

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Several NFL beat writers/experts/team reporters or what-have-you have been recently quoted stating that Cam Newton is:

  1. A top 10 quarterback and;
  2. A better quarterback than Joe Flacco.

I am a big Joe Flacco apologist. A lot of people (many Ravens fans included) simply don’t understand what the Ravens have in him. Today’s Flashback Friday compares the stats of the great Cam Newton and all of his supposed eliteness to those of Joe Flacco in each of their respective first four years in the league.

This first chart documents Newton’s career stats as well as Flacco’s stats from 2008-2011.

Screenshot 2015-07-03 08.20.27

The information above is quite telling. Flacco posted a better completion %, a better touchdown-interception ratio, and a better QB rating. One of the major misconceptions about Flacco during his early years was that he was nothing more than a game manager, and that it was the running game that carried the team.

Do a Google search. How many hits do you get if you type in “Flacco game manager”?

A lot, right?

Flacco had more completions and more passes attempted than Newton, which means the Ravens’ offense relied on Flacco’s arm more than the Panthers relied on Newton’s. Just look at the stats above. So if Flacco was just a game manager and the running game carried him, what does that say about Newton? Is Newton worse than a game manager? Why no. He’s a top 10 quarterback. Just ask the experts.

The stats suggest otherwise, however.

Pat McManamon, the ESPN expert person/know-it-all/blowhard for the Cleveland Browns, had this to say just last week: “I put Rivers, Wilson, Newton and Brees as the seven through 10. Which puts Flacco 11th, just out of the top 10.”

What has Newton done to deserve the number 9 spot? What is it? Is it because he posted a 4,000-yard season and Flacco hasn’t? Too bad Super Bowls aren’t won off of Fantasy stats. Is it because he’s been to a Pro Bowl? So has Tim Tebow. What’s your point? It can’t be based off his overall numbers.

Flacco is statistically better than Newton in just about every major category listed in the above chart. And that only includes Flacco’s regular season stats from his first four years. Nevermind his 10 career playoff wins or the Super Bowl MVP he won in his 5th season. Cam is entering his 5th season in the league right now as a matter of fact. Flacco had 9 playoff victories following his 5th year in the league. So in order to tie Flacco, Cam needs to win 7 playoff games this year and win Super Bowl 50. Hey good luck with that. But Cam is already better. Just ask the Cleveland Browns experts.

Did you know that prior to the 2013 season Flacco had the 5th lowest interception percentage (2.25%) in NFL history? Flacco only threw between 10-12 interceptions in each of his first five seasons, which is the best streak in NFL history. And Flacco began his career with that streak. Cam Newton’s career interception percentage is 2.8%. So, in order to match Flacco’s NFL record of 2.25% after 5 seasons, he can only throw 1/4th of 1 interception this season, assuming he throws at least 400 passes. Haha.

But Cam is so much better, right?

Flacco is currently second in league history with six career seasons of less than 13 interceptions (minimum 400 attempts). And he just turned 30. Tom Brady currently has the most with seven such seasons, meaning Flacco can tie that record this year.

The following charts show, based on total yards/season, how Newton has actually regressed over his four-year career. Flacco, on the other hand, improved over his first four years.

Screenshot 2015-07-03 08.42.42

Compared to his first year in the league (4051 yards), Newton had a 23% reduction in his overall passing production by his fourth year (3127 yards). Flacco had a 21% increase in his overall production from his first year to his fourth (2971 yards to 3610 yards).

And it’s easy to say “Oh, well Cam didn’t have as many playmakers on offense last year. Look at all the weapons Flacco had last year” as many Panthers fans and beat-writers alike have said:

Screenshot 2015-07-03 08.59.27 Kenny Miller Mario Jones Tweet

These comments are so unintentionally ironic. The Panthers cut Steve Smith because they thought he was done. Washed up. Finished. Couldn’t connect with Cam anymore. So he goes to Baltimore and becomes the Ravens’ most productive receiver in 2014.

How about this notion…Flacco makes the talent around him better! Cam apparently does not.

And I don’t want to hear the offensive line argument, either. Flacco has had four offensive coordinators in 4 years, a completely reworked OL on several occasions, and since 2012 he’s lost a top running back (Rice), top wide receiver twice (Boldin and Torrey), top tight end (Pitta), and still won a Super Bowl MVP and had a career season in 2014.

The comment by the Panthers fan (Mario Jones) above is one of my favorites. It is such a terrible internet post for many different reasons. It has way too many ellipses, bad grammar, abbreviations, and flawed logic. Everything. It truly is a work of art. I would argue that the stats discrepancy between Flacco and Newton would be even larger had Flacco played his entire career against the NFC South.

Here are Flacco’s career numbers against the NFC South and how they compare to Newton’s.

Screenshot 2015-07-03 08.57.35

Flacco’s sample size is much smaller, but the numbers are not even close.

They aren’t even close to being close.

I don’t want the point of this article to be nothing more than a bashing of Cam Newton. He runs a lot, and has had a decent amount of success doing so. How many QBs can keep running into their 30s, however? Not many. Once that side of Newton’s game is diminished, he will become another RGIII.

I really do like Cam. I think he has the potential to become a top 10 quarterback. But he’s not there, yet.

Rodgers, Brady, Peyton, Brees, Roethlisberger, Flacco, Luck, Wilson, Romo, Ryan, Eli, Rivers. Those are the 12 quarterbacks that are unquestionably better than Cam Newton. It’s not even debatable. Guys like Dalton, Stafford, Palmer, Kaepernick, Tannehill, and Cutler are all in the discussion of possibly being better.

I want to make this point again: Newton could develop into a top 10 QB over the next several years. It’s possible. But as of right now, he doesn’t deserve to be in the same conversation as Joe Flacco. He’s a middle-tier QB with potential and two career playoff wins in a terrible division.

Joe Flacco is January Joe.

End of story.

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Kenny Miller

About Kenny Miller

Kenny Miller is a meteorologist living in Frederick, MD. He is a Baltimore native and as diehard a Ravens fan as they come. Kenny has a massive collection of Ravens memorabilia and every Ravens game on DVD. He is also a huge fan of professional wrestling, Penn State sports, and the Chicago White Sox. Kenny is a Baltimore native who received his Bachelors Degree from Penn State and his Masters Degree from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. Follow Kenny on twitter at @bakerspazing.

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