Surely by now, everyone has heard about the “Dig” made by 49ers Quarterback Alex Smith regarding Panthers Phenom Quaterback Cam Newton. It’s been talked about by many media outlets, none really taking the time to decipher the actual statements made.
“This is the honest truth: I could absolutely care less on yards per game, I think that’s a totally overblown stat. Because if you’re losing games in the second half, guess what? You’re like the Carolina Panthers and you’re going no-huddle the entire second half and, yeah, Cam Newton threw for a lot of 300-yard games, that’s great. You’re not winning, though.”- Alex Smith
If you’re not familiar with the relationship between Alex Smith and the media, here is a brief synopsis. Alex is often criticized for his lack of passing prowess when compared to his peers. Smith is not known for slinging the ball all over the yard , he has been labeled a “game manager.” The 49ers went 13-3 last season, most post game pressers for Alex were spent asking him about his peers and his lack of 300 yard games. Hardly touched upon were the multiple come from behind victories in which the defense got stops and relied on Alex to capitalize on those drives. Smith had been through some difficult times since being drafted #1 overall in the 2005 draft, last season was a big step in his development. The “Game Manager” threw for 3,144 yards, 17 TDs, 5 INTs, for a QB rating of 90.7. The 49ers went 13-3, obviously that defense did much of the heavy lifting. Just don’t forget that Alex Smith made the most of his opportunities to win games when they presented themselves, he’s not an “elite” QB by any means but the “Game Manager” moniker deserves to be dropped.
Cam Newton was doubted heavily after being drafted #1 overall in last year’s NFL Draft, allhe did was come out and SHATTER the record books. Mr. Newton threw for 4,051 yards, 21 TDs, 17 INTs, for a rating of 84.5. That wasn’t all, Cam was a true dual threat while rushing 126 times for 706 yards and 14 TDs. As expected when you’re the #1 overall pick, you’re drafted to a team that is far from complete. Newton singlehandedly kept them in games the Panthers shouldn’t have been in. Newton has all the tools to be an “Elite” QB, 35 total TDs in his rookie year dictates his learning curve may not be as steep as most thought prior to him being drafted. Newton has an extremely bright future, all the Panthers have to do is surround him with more talent and the rest will take care of itself. Newton was able to put the FRANCHISE on his back as a Rookie, talent is not an issue.
Now, let’s break down this “dig” at Cam Newton: Newton had THREE 3oo+ yards passing games. All three resulted in losses, Newton also had three 250+ yard passing games. Of those three, only one resulted in a win and that was against the Redskins. The Panthers went 6-10 last season, here’s Cam’s passing stats in those games: 158 yards vs Jacksonville, 208 vs the Colts, 204 vs Tampa Bay, 256 vs Washington, and 171 vs Tampa Bay. So for the other 10 games of the season Carolina did play from BEHIND quite often, that is not an indictment on Cam Newton in any way. It just means that the part of Alex Smith’s comment referring to “playing from behind” is absolutely true. Cam wasn’t surrounded by the type of talent that Alex had on either side of the ball, if one were to ask Cam would he trade big individual games for wins I’m sure he would. Cam Newton came to the NFL with the reputation of being a “winner,” it’s evident that he cares about Wins more than stats if you’ve listened to any Newton press conference after a loss. He could care less about individual accolades if it meant that HIS TEAM lost the game. All Cam want’s to do is WIN.
Alex’s is not attacking Cam Newton, he is attacking the notion that yards per game doesn’t translate into wins nor is it more important than Wins. Many folks spit out stats when defending a player in a debate, yards per game is one of those stats that means nothing if there is no direct correlation between those yards and wins. The object of the game is winning, not finishing with great passing yards. Smith used Cam Newton and the Panthers as his example for his first statement: “I could absolutely care less on yards per game,I think that’s a totally overblown stat.” That is the part of the statement that should be attacked if any, the second part was used to support THAT statement. If Smith used a different Quarterback’s name I’m sure this wouldn’t be a story at all, Newton’s name is what made this non story into a “story.”
No one is calling anybody out, not once did he question Cam Newton’s talent to play the game or the position. Nor am I defending Smith for using Newton’s name, Smith has been in the league long enough to know that using a big name in any statement even if it’s true would generate backlash. Smith could have made that statement without using names, either way the comment was directed to the MEDIA. It didn’t come across as a “shot” being fired at Newton and the Panthers. Many who heard the story or read the statement turned this into Alex vs Cam. HOW and WHY does one come away from that statement with that in mind. For the most part, teams pass to get ahead and run to preserve the win. That in mind, re-read Smith’s statement and see if you come away with Alex vs Cam.
Jon Beason jumped into the fray and attempted to “defended” his QB by this statement on twitter: “Alex Smith, don’t hate on Cam bc your stats would have gotten you cut if Peyton decided to come 2 San Fran. Truth b told…That’s after a 13-3 yr.” Like most that read the statement by Smith, the only part that Beason read was Newton’s name. There’s only FOUR teams in the NFL that wouldn’t sit their starting QB in favor of Peyton Manning. Manning will go down as on of the greatest to ever play the position. Beason has the gall to speak about someone being replaced when the Panthers selected a Linebacker with their First Round pick this year(Beason sat out all of last season with an injury). There’s nothing wrong with standing up for your teammate, but first take the time to UNDERSTAND what was said. All Beason’s comments did was add fuel to this horribly built fire, it made this “Story” relevant for another week or so. This is a typical NFL Off-season story, a pointless one that serves as pointless conversation at the water cooler.
What do you think of Smith’s comments, were they truly “shots” fired at Cam Newton or is this a classic case of NOTHING being made into something?? Leave your thoughts and comments below.