Best could be yet to come for Cam

By Jeff Linville -

The Carolina Panthers’ starting quarterback still feels like a youngster to me, but he’s already played six full seasons in the NFL.

And this Thursday, Cam Newton turns 28.

This may not seem like much of an event to most folks, but for all that Cam has accomplished so far in his career, most quarterbacks get appreciably better around age 28.

Many a strong-armed quarterback has entered the NFL to fanfare, only to struggle for years before coming into their own. Even some of the great ones had a few mediocre seasons before exploding around the age that Cam is about to reach.

The idea of Cam taking a big jump forward is thrilling, especially considering all that he has accomplished thus far. He already has a college football championship, Heisman Trophy, NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, NFL MVP Award and a trip to the Super Bowl.

Obviously, that isn’t the same as Tom Brady going 9-0 with three Super Bowls by the time he was 28.

However, we all know the Patriots relied on defense back in those days. Brady just needed to be steady and smart.

In Brady’s first four seasons (before 28), he never threw for 4,000 yards or 30 TDs. He’s now had eight seasons of 4,000 yards and would have had a ninth last year if he hadn’t sat out four games. He’s had 30 TDs in six seasons, including 50 in 2007.

Cam already has one 4,000-yard season under his belt and two other seasons with 3,800 yards. He has more than 21,000 yards and 136 TDs passing already to go with 3,566 yards and 48 TDs rushing.

And while Cam struggled with passer rating in 2016, the QB’s career rating is still on par with what Brady did before his 28th birthday.

Here are a few other notable quarterbacks to keep in mind:

• Dan Fouts didn’t have a 4,000-yard season until he was 28. Then he led the league in passing yards four straight years, until 1983 when Lynn Dickey had a career year for the Packers at age 34.

• Eli Manning was 28 when he had his first 4,000-yard season. He’s now had six of them.

• Drew Brees was 27 when he had his first 4,000-yard season and 30 when he had his first 100 passer rating.

• Joe Montana had early team success, but he had his first 100 passer rating when he was 28.

• Big Ben had his breakout season when he was 27.

• Drew Brees was 27 when he had his first 4,000-yard season and 30 when he had his first 100 passer rating.

• Because of his time in the CFL, Warren Moon made his rookie debut at 27 and turned 28 three months in. Despite the late start, he’s #7 in career passing yards.

• Kurt Warner also got a late start and didn’t have his first NFL season until he was 28, but he won the MVP award twice in three years.

• Fran Tarkenton didn’t have his first 3,000-yard season until he was 27, but when he retired he was #1 in career passing yards.

• Another good runner, Steve McNair had five of his six 3,000-yard seasons from age 28 on. And his best statistical seasons were from ages 28-30 before mounting injuries took their toll.

• Steve Beuerlein was 31 when he joined the Panthers and 33 when he took over the starting job. He then had the three best seasons of his career.

• Steve Young was just shy of 30 when he finally supplanted Joe Montana as starter. He led the league in passer rating six times.

• Roger Staubach didn’t nail down the starting job in Dallas until he was 31.

• John Elway was 33 the first time he passed for 25 TDs in a season. It was also his first 4,000-yard season.

• Rich Gannon was 33 when he finally had his first full season as a starter. He was 36 (until his December birthday made him 37) when he earned the MVP award by leading the Raiders to the Super Bowl.

By Jeff Linville

Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.

Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.

comments powered by Disqus