One of the more controversial NFL story lines over the past decade has once again reared its ugly head. The comparison between Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is something fans and media alike have debated ever since Luck decided to stay another year in college. With that decision, Andrew Luck avoided being drafted by the Carolina Panthers. Instead, they drafted Cam Newton and the Indianapolis Colts landed Andrew Luck a year later.
This topic was recently discussed on ESPN’s First Take (video below). As such, I thought I would weigh in with my thoughts.
Most people who argue for Andrew Luck do so with built in excuses for his performance. In Indianapolis, Luck had no defense. Luck had no running game. Luck lacked offensive weapons. Those are all real struggles to be sure. However, Cam Newton has had those very same struggles as a Carolina Panthers quarterback, and has a MVP title and Superbowl appearance under his belt to show for it.
During the Carolina Panthers 2015 Superbowl season, Cam Newton didn’t play in a high scoring offense. Cam Newton WAS a high scoring offense, accounting for 45 total touchdowns. The Panthers did have a run game, but that run game was based on Cam Newton’s legs. If not for the read option offense based on Newton’s athleticism, the Carolina Panthers would have rushed for far fewer yards, and 10 fewer touchdowns.
Don’t get me started on receiving threats. The Carolina Panthers had arguably the worst group of wide receivers in the NFL. Ted Ginn, a guy that could even get playing time in Arizona, was his number one receiver. Also, don’t forget that he did it with offensive tackles Michael Oher and Mike Remmers protecting him.
What about the defense? Anyone that watched the 2015 Carolina Panthers season knows the season was filled with 4th quarter defensive let downs. Games that should have been put away early were almost always close and in some cases went into overtime (Indianapolis Colts game coincidentally). It was up to Cam Newton all season long to pull out the victory. For reference, see the Saints, Giants, Seahawks, and Packers games.
Here is a bit of free advice. Until Andrew Luck plays in a Superbowl just after being named NFL MVP in a season filled with tremendous adversity, you may just want to stick with Cam Newton over Andrew Luck.