Don't give Cam Newton the MVP just yet. Carson Palmer has been better
It’s important that I preface this article by saying that Peter King is a very good friend of mine. I rarely ever take issue what something he writes, but that wasn’t the case today with his argument in MMQB.com that Cam Newton should win the MVP:
“Not sure it’s arguable now. Newton is playing so exquisitely that he’s leaving no room for any of the other quarterbacks having great years (Brady, Palmer, Roethlisberger, Wilson, Dalton) to nudge him aside. In the past month, Newton has played five games, won them all, had the only three five-touchdown-pass games of his career, and has an 18-to-1 touchdown-to-pick ratio. One other thing about Newton’s play: When the season started, there’s a good chance his receivers, one through four, were 32nd out of 32 teams in the league: Philly Brown and Ted Ginn Jr. the starters to open the season, and Jerricho Cotchery and rookie Devin Funchess at three and four.”
I just couldn’t let that one lie. Look, I know that Cam Newton will win the MVP this year. I disagree with the idea that he should, but just as I understood that Alabama running back Derrick Henry would win the Heisman this year (unfairly, in my view, over Christian McCaffrey), it’s already a done deal. Why? Because even smart, influential guys like Peter have said he’s “not sure it’s arguable now.”
Let me take a shot at making the argument against it.
1. While everyone wants to talk about what Newton doesn’t have (receivers), nobody mentions what he DOES have.
It’s fair to question the talent level of Carolina’s wide receivers. But the reality is that Newton has one of the better overall supporting casts in the NFL.
Greg Olsen has graded out as the best receiving tight end in the league this season outside of the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski – so much so that when you include him in the group of Carolina pass-catchers, they rank as one of the NFL’s better units.
Newton has received some of the best pass protection in the league, and far better than the two passers whom we have ranked ahead of Newton all year – Arizona’s Carson Palmer and New England’s Tom Brady. The Panthers also have a great ground game, including one of the best running backs in the league this year in Jonathan Stewart. And their defense ranks third in our PFF grades:
|MVP candidate||Tight end
|Pass protection||RB rushing||Defense|
Bottom line: The Panthers are far from the one-man show that Peter and others would have you believe.
2. There is one very important stat that isn’t on Newton’s side.
The fact that the Panthers have had such good pass protection is critical, because Newton hasn’t fared well when he has been under pressure this season. Just check out these numbers:
–When Newton is given a clean pocket, his passer rating is 114.9 – 16.1 points ABOVE the NFL average.
–When Newton is pressured, his passer rating is 57.9 – 13.7 points BELOW the NFL average.
In contrast, Palmer is under pressure on 42.2 percent of snaps (Newton is pressured on just 34.2 percent of snaps), the third-worst figure in the league. How do you think Newton would fare if asked to play behind Arizona’s offensive line.
This isn’t meant to be a criticism of Newton, as there is no questioning the fact that he has been brilliant at many times this season and put together a great campaign overall. But in my opinion, Palmer has been even better – and at a minimum, to try and close the debate with two weeks still to play is a disservice to him.