Friday, August 19, 2011

Cam Newton Makes First Preseason Start

Cam Newton's first NFL start, albeit a preseason one, is in the books. The first overall pick in the 2011 Draft took the field against the Miami Dolphins tonight getting the nod over incumbent Jimmy Clausen. But Newton failed to lead a touchdown drive for the second week in a row as the Panthers were shut out during his half of work. Miami's offense dominated the time of possession game and Newton, despite playing a full half was only on the field for 7 minutes and 42 seconds. He didn't exactly light it up when he was out there either. Newton completed 7 of 14 passes for 66 yards, but the Panthers managed just 3 first downs in the first two quarters and didn't cross midfield until the second to last play of the first half. In his defense, he didn't get much help from the running game though as DeAngelo Williams managed just 6 yards on 3 carries in the first half.
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Jimmy Clausen came on at the half and had a bit better luck. Clausen led a pair of scoring drives (one set up by a Miami turnover) and unlike Newton has produced a touchdown drive in each of the first two games. It will be interesting to see how things progress over the final two preseason games and what the Panthers decide to do regarding the quarterback position. While Newton hasn't been great, he hasn't looked overwhelmed out there either and obviously, much like Vince Young or Michael Vick, he is a game changer when he's on the field. Jimmy Clausen's a good quarterback, but he didn't do anything in his 13 games last season to show he deserves the job. 1558 yards 3 touchdowns and 9 interceptions aren't exactly numbers that scream franchise quarterback. For Clausen to win the job this preseason, I really think he's going to have to blow Newton out of the water with his numbers. And thus far, while his numbers have been better, they haven't been so much better that I'd say he's the favorite. Let's compare:

Newton - 15/33 200 yards 0 TD 0 INT - 12 series, 6 points
Clausen - 13/22 138 yards 1 TD 1 INT - 10 series, 17 points

So as you can see, while Clausen has the edge numbers wise, but they're in the same ballpark. If the preseason ended right now, I think you'd still be looking at Cam Newton as the starter on Opening Day. Carolina takes on Cincinnati on Thursday and closes out the preseason the following Thursday against Pittsburgh. Stay tuned on this one.

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