Can Cam Newton match Aaron Rodgers first two career starts?
Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a biweekly blog published every Wednesday and Sunday with a bonus “SIX STATS…” posting every Friday.
A lot has been said about Cam Newton‘s performance last Sunday in his NFL debut. Not to take anything away from Newton, but his fellow rookie starter at QB, Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton, also had a good start to his NFL career, although he was injured in the game and had to be replaced. Dalton completed 10 of 15 passes with one touchdown in his first NFL start for a 102.4 passer rating. Newton passed for 422 yards and finished the game with a 110.4 passer rating.
What makes Newton’s and Dalton’s first career starts impressive is that it is rare for an NFL QB starting his first career game to finish with a passer rating over 100. Case in point: Looking at the other 30 starting quarterbacks from last week, only four of them had a passer rating over 100 when they started their first career game in the league. Topping the list was Atlanta’s Matt Ryan who had a 137 passer rating in his first NFL start. The other three: Drew Brees (136.8), Philip Rivers (133.9) and Aaron Rodgers (115.5).
Worst starting debut in the league of the other 30 QBs who started last week: Alex Smith (8.5), Matthew Stafford (27.4), Matt Schaub (35.4), Tarvaris Jackson (35.4), Eli Manning (45.1), Donovan McNabb (46.3) and Matt Hasselbeck (48.4).
Here’s another interesting stat… Not only did Aaron Rodgers have a passer rating over 100 in his first career start, but he also had a passer rating over 100 in his second career start with a 117.0. Ryan, Brees and Rivers were all under 100 in their second career start, although Rivers just missed two straight 100 rating games with a 99.1 in his second career start. The big question: Can Newton and Dalton match Rodgers first two career starts with a passer rating over 100?
WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG FOR A TRIVIA QUESTION: Reader Steve Douglas asked against what franchise did the most Hall of Fame quarterbacks play their last game? Answer at the end of the blog.
Let’s expand the list of quarterbacks to compare Newton and Dalton. We looked at 13 Hall of Fame QBs who had 150 or more career TDs and 13 QBs not currently in the Hall who have 200 or more career TDs. Of those 26 QBs, only five had a passer rating of 100 or higher in their first career start. The five: Brett Favre (144.6), Roman Gabriel (128.5), Jim Kelly (119.8), Roger Staubach (115.3) and Dan Marino (108.7). Of those five, only Marino had a passer rating over 100 in his second career start as well (113.9).
The worst starting debuts of the 26: John Elway (0.0), John Hadl (0.0), Jim Everett (4.2), Fran Tarkenton (15.5), Terry Bradshaw (19.3), Randall Cunningham (22.7), Jim Hart (24.4), Bob Griese (25.0).
Did you know? Hadl not only had a 0.0 passer rating in his first career start, he also had a 0.0 passer rating in his second career start as well. He went on to throw 244 career touchdowns, most with the San Diego Chargers.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Of the 25 Hall of Fame quarterbacks, four played their last game against the Los Angeles Rams (Otto Graham, Sonny Jurgensen, Roger Staubach and Fran Tarkenton). Four teams had two Hall QBs play their last game against them: Miami, San Diego, Washington, Jacksonville. (Note: Last game stats were not available for two of the 25, Bob Waterfied and Sid Luckman)