Carolina Panther Fans: You Can’t Handle the Truth

Though becoming much preachier in recent years, Aaron Sorkin delivered gold with this line from A Few Good Men, and Jack Nicholson immortalized it on the screen.

Not only was it a classic moment in film history, but the line itself can be thrown back at many people out there who clearly can’t handle the truth when it comes to hearing valid criticism of their favorite athletes.

Since I started writing football articles, I have received almost zero criticism from anyone. There was one Saints fan that was probably just drunk at 3 a.m. and mistakenly thought I put down Brees, but that was about it.

People that know my work know I turn in-depth research into quality writing as well as anyone out there. I have established a standard for myself, and refuse to put out something in my name that does not live up to that standard.

Enter my articles on Cam Newton (one, and two), and I saw how the other side lives. There was a huge negative response, but it was concentrated from the Carolina fan base. Look at this gem from Twitter. People like that led the way that day.

In other words, it was a homer attack that I could give two shits about. I know what I wrote, and I know what research I had to write what I did.

It is easy to see what’s going on here. Carolina fans have zero experience in having a franchise QB to root for. Steve Beuerlein’s one year of greatness? Jake Delhomme’s solid play for a few years? No. This is different with Newton.

The Panther fans have their binky now, and they love their binky, and will say anything to protect him.

THE SECOND WAVE

So after Monday’s article, the second wave came, but this time it was different. Now I had other writers responding to what I wrote with their own article. This takes it beyond “random Twitter asshole.”

First, Jimmy Grappone put this piece together last night on Bleacher Report. It really doesn’t refute my articles, and I noticed he made mention of Jaworski’s QB ranking ofNewton as No. 15 in the league. That is fine, but my beef is with the other lists and much higher rankingsNewton was given from other sources. Jaworski’s ranking is more in touch with reality. Contributor Hank Kimball’s comment at the bottom sums up the rest of my feelings towards this one.

Then I awoke today to find someone I never heard of on a site I never visit call me lazy.

L-A-Z-Y.

That’s a new one. You can call me a lot of things, but lazy is not one of them. At least not when it comes to researching and writing.

He didn’t mention me by name, and I will offer him the same courtesy here.

You can choose to read the article here. Or, you can just allow me to demonstrate how the pot called the kettle black, and show just how lazy this piece was.

(Guess starting this blog last week was good timing)

I’M LAZY?

This is not something I normally will plan to do – I normally never would have to – but if you are going to attack my work, I will make it a point to show just how bad yours is. Just how lazy the research, or lack thereof, was.

First, he even begins his article with “As a writer there are few things more important than holding your tongue if you haven’t done the adequate research needed to cover a topic.”

The “I watched every play” defense is always laughable. Great, you were a fan and watched your team’s 16 games each week. Welcome to the club of millions that did the same.

Now did you go back and watch the game again? Did you supplement the shaky eye test with indisputable data? Or are you just going all by memory of a game you saw one time with a biased interest as a fan?

Lazy Statement No. 1 – “As the season progressed we saw Jonathan Stewart given more and more short-yardage carries.”

This is exactly what I’m talking about with hard data versus fluffy memories. This was in response to me saying Newton’s rushing TD record was a fluke. Jonathan Stewart was not given more carries near the goal line as the season progressed.

Inside the 10-yard line last year, Newton had 23 carries to 10 for Stewart. I think a logical split would be the first eight games vs. last eight games (not to mention Carolina had a bye after the 8th game).

In the first eight games, Newton had 16 of the 25 carries (64%), and Stewart had 8 (32%). In the last eight games, Newton had 7 of the 16 carries (43.8%), and Stewart had two (12.5%).

Those TWO goal line carries Stewart had in the second half of the season must have really resonated with this fan.

The player that actually was given more carries was DeAngelo Williams, who had six carries in the second half of the season, after just one in the first half.

Either way, Newton was still the No. 1 option for Carolina in this situation.

Misconceived Statement No. 2– “There’s no single statement that makes blood shoot out of my orifices faster than reading pieces that refer to Cam Newton as a ‘running QB’. That statement alone should be a bellwether than the writer didn’t watch him play.”

What we have here is a failure to understand averages. A running quarterback does not mean it is someone who has more carries than pass attempts (or close to a 50/50 split). A running quarterback is someone who is more likely to take off and run than the average (pocket) quarterback.

Newtonhad 126 carries in 2011, which are the second most in NFL history for a QB. Not even Michael Vick has topped that number.

Meanwhile your pocket passers like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees average well under 40 attempts a season, and many of those are kneel downs to secure a win (not many of those included in Newton’s season).

When someone is much more likely to take off and run, not to mention have the most designed running plays in the league, then it’s clear they are a running quarterback.

That does not mean they can’t throw or don’t throw. Only an idiot would take that angle from it.

Last season Matthew Stafford ran on just 3.1% of his drop backs. Newton ran on 18.6% of his drop backs. Big difference.

Same thing in basketball with outside shooters.

LeBron James averages 4.0 attempts per game from 3-pt territory in his career. That’s almost as many as Kyle Korver (4.1). So why is James not considered a 3-pt shooter like Korver? James makes .331 of them, compared to .413 for Korver. He is inefficient at doing it, and it is a much lower percentage of his overall attempts.

And while I never specifically said running quarterbacks are figured out quickly in the NFL, there is no denying players like Michael Vick, Kordell Stewart, Aaron Brooks, and Vince Young were successful early, but failed to improve their game. Players like Randall Cunningham and Steve McNair played their best when they stayed in the pocket later in their careers.

I think Newton has a better chance than those players, but there is zero to suggest he’s going to automatically be a better passer this year.

Lazy Statement No. 3 – “It’s the same thing we saw from Ben Roethlisberger his rookie year, when he ran 56 times (a mark he’s never matched again). Like Roethlisberger it’s likelyCam will take that next step where he’s more willing to stand in the pocket and look at every single read before leaving, rather than taking off before every option is examined.”

If you know about Ben Roethlisberger, then you know he hates to scramble. He always wants to throw the ball, and looks downfield for the big play first and foremost.

Roethlisberger was not often scrambling in his rookie season. He was kneeling down on his way to a 13-0 record as a starter.

27 of Roethlisberger’s 56 runs in 2004 were kneel downs. That means he attempted to throw the ball on 8.2% of his drop backs. That is more than a pocket passer like Stafford, but still nowhere near the level of Newton.

Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers use their legs, but still look to throw.Newton is more likely to run at this point of his career.

You cannot call Newton a typical pocket passer, so he gets the earned distinction of a running quarterback.

Lazy Statement No. 4 – “The Panthers Newton-led offense managed to eek out six wins in spite of an atrocious defense.”

This is a common mistake many writers make. They take a team’s bad statistic and apply it to the full season, completely ignoring what happened in said wins.

For example, the 2006 Indianapolis Colts had a very poor regular season defense, but they played great for 3.5 of the playoff games, and that helped the team win Super Bowl XLI.

Newton never overcame an atrocious defense for a single win in 2011.

When the team allowed more than 20 points, they were 0-10. They were 6-0 when allowing 20 points or fewer, and they only managed that against bad offenses with an inexperienced quarterback starting.

Considering Josh Johnson, Curtis Painter and John Beck are a combined 0-20 in the NFL as starters, Newton better have led his team to a win in those games.

Five of the six quarterbacks Carolina beat in 2011 were making their 1st-to-8th career start in the NFL Only Josh Freeman (39th start) was experienced, and he had a bad season.

The Panthers also only won when Newton took on more of a game manager role. They were 5-1 in his games with the fewest passing yards.

  • If you have, at best, league-average passing stats (pick any site and metric)…
  • If you have an absurdly inflated rushing touchdown record…
  • If you fail more often than you succeed in the clutch…
  • If you can only win when the defense shuts down subpar offenses…

Then clearly, you are not the greatest rookie ever, and far from a top 10 (or higher) quarterback in this league.

You are overrated.

Conclusion

It’s a new age for Carolina Panthers football. But their fans are going to have to start accepting the truth. Your quarterback is far from perfect. Far from being accomplished in this league too.

I did not have to pull things out of thin air or fabricate anything to make my points. The facts are the facts. If Newton has a great 2012, then fine. He’ll no longer be overrated (unless of course people start putting him even higher than he deserves again).

But what he does in 2012 will not change the fact his 2011 was a vastly overrated season.

People that rely solely on the eye test are always going to be lacking in the facts department. That’s the whole problem with the eye test. You see what you want to see, and it’s even worse when you are a fan of that team.

While you should supplement watching games with the data, some people seem to think their eyes and memories are all they need. Facts? Well we will just make some generalizations and that should work for most of the sheep.

Now that’s being lazy.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s