Cleat Geeks

Face the Facts: Cam Newton is Your 2015 MVP

Cam Newton for MVP

Don’t look now, but the NFL season is officially entering the fourth quarter. All 32 teams have played twelve games apiece, and only one still remains unbeaten: the Carolina Panthers.

For supporters of the “QB Wins” stat, this is all the information needed to anoint Cam Newton as your 2015 Most Valuable Player. However, for fans of more traditional statistics, the numbers tell a different story. Newton is 17th in passing yards, 29th in completion percentage, 11th in yards per attempt, 15th in passer rating, and 13th in total QBR.

So what don’t these numbers show?

First, let’s start with the obvious; no quarterback is doing more in the run game than Cam Newton. The 6’5 250-pound monster of a quarterback leads all signal-callers in rushing yards (476), and his seven scores on the ground are tied for the fourth highest among all players, regardless of position. Add these totals to his passing numbers and he would skyrocket to eighth in yards and first in touchdowns.

Newton has taken tremendous strides as the season has progressed, seemingly getting better and better with each passing week. Over his past five games, Newton has posted a stellar 113.9 passer rating and a TD:INT ratio of 14:2, while also adding three rushing scores. He set a new career-high in Week 11 when he tossed five touchdown passes against the Washington Redskins, then matched that number again this past Sunday.

He is also getting it done when it matters the most. Newton has orchestrated three game-winning drives this season: on the road against Seattle, in overtime against Indianapolis, and most recently out-dueling future Hall Of Famer Drew Brees on his home field. Newton has played nothing short of amazing in crunch time, and the numbers speak for themselves. Take a look at his passing stats during the fourth quarter and while his team is trailing.

Att Cmp Cmp % Yds TD INT A/YPA Rating
4th Quarter 75 49

65.3

673 6 1 9.97 115.0
When Trailing 101 69 68.3 966 8 2 10.26 117.0

Naysayers love to discredit Newton’s MVP candidacy by pointing to Carolina’s elite defense. Truth is, Arizona’s defense ranks better than the Panthers in points per game, and New England only trails by .4 points – but no one mentions that when talking up Palmer or Brady. The Panthers have also allowed 23 or more points on five different occasions this season, forcing Newton and his offense to win in some shootouts. The most notable of these came last weekend in a 41-38 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

While Carolina’s offense has not been high-powered, it has been efficient. Despite ranking 14th in yards per game and 27th in passing yards, the Panthers offense has scored the third-most points, a mere .1 per game behind Tom Brady’s Patriots. With four weeks of football still left to be played, Newton has already thrown for a career-best 25 touchdowns and run for seven more.

What’s most amazing about all of this, however, is the lack of weapons he has at his disposal. Greg Olsen is a terrific player, but outside of him, there is next to nothing. After Kelvin Benjamin went down in the preseason with a torn ACL, Carolina was left with a receiver corps that was laughable at best. The team’s three leading wide outs are a return specialist, a 33-year old journeyman, and a second-round rookie who played tight end in college.

Ted Ginn in particular has probably dropped as many touchdown passes as he’s caught this season. That number is six; the same number of touchdowns he had in his seven seasons outside of Carolina combined.

Perhaps this, more than anything else, shows Newton’s true value to this Carolina team. They say that truly great players make everyone around them better, and that is exactly what Cam Newton has done this season. This is why he is your 2015 NFL MVP.

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