With the NFL 2011 season heading into its home stretch the Rookie of the Year race has two young QBs heading the charge. The two could not have a more opposite game or personality from one another. One, a larger than life, jaw dropping, stat racking machine. The other a resilient, pressure performing, self sacrificing gamer with maybe not the flash, but all the excitement.
Even as the First overall pick I think it’s safe to say Cam Newton has performed above expectations. He is truly having one of the most memorable rookie campaigns in recent history. Cam leads all rookies in Passing Yards (3573), completion pct. (59.7), Pass YPG (274.8), and Rush TD (13). Newton started hot right out of the gate passing for a 422 yards in the season opener which is the most ever by any player in their debut. The following week he set another record passing for 432 yards, the most by any rookie in a single game. The records haven’t stopped falling since, and it doesn’t look like they will. Newton rushed for his league leading 13th TD on the season which is an NFL record for any QB in league history. Cam has more records in sight still. With 3 games remaining he needs only 166 passing yards to break Payton Manning’s rookie record in a season at 3,739. He also needs just 1 more 300 yard game to tie Manning and Warren Moon for the most 300 yard games in a rookie season with 4.
In the red corner (no pun intended, but maybe) Andy Dalton, who was the 35th overall pick out of TCU, has been the biggest surprise of the 2011 draft. Dalton had quite the task ahead of him, stepping onto a team that finished 4-12 in 2010, a team marred by controversy with their former all-pro QB retiring. The Bengals also had lost their 2 best receivers in reality show stars Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. He was also coming on to a team that was implementing a new offense, under a new coordinator, with no off season. But the poised QB came right in and has made the most of the situation. Dalton leads all rookies in TD passes (18), TD/INT ratio, and QB rating (82.1). More impressively has the Cincinnati Bengals in a tight playoff race in the AFC. Dalton has the lead the Bengals on four 4th Qtr. Comebacks. Dalton has 2 300 yard games on the season.
Both young guns could be deserving of the award. It really depends on what you base the award on? If it’s individual stats then Cam takes it hands down. But if its an overall performance, with team success and value of an individual, to the team’s success then it may go to Dalton. Whichever way you lean these are two of the best young QBs in the league, and more than likely will be battling for more awards down the line, and if they have it their way another pretty important trophy.