Of the eight quarterbacks still alive in the NFL playoffs, Cam Newton has the least amount of postseason experience – and it’s not even close.
Why? Because Sunday marks the first playoff game of his career.
Now all he has to do is beat Colin Kaepernick and the reigning NFC champions.
“He’s got zero playoff experience,” CBS Sports NFL analyst Steve Beuerlein said of Newton on The Morning Show. “Is the pressure greater on him? Does he have anything to prove this coming week and through the playoff stretch? I don’t think he really has anything to prove. He’s in his third year, he’s developed and he’s made tremendous progress from last year to this year – from not only his consistency on the field, but his consistency off the field. And you know how important that is for a quarterback to mature and assume that responsibility of that role on a football team.”
Carolina started 1-3 this season but has won 11 of its last 12 games. Yes, the defense is lights out, and yes, the running game is potent, but Newton has made plays when he had to, especially in wins against New England and New Orleans.
“I think he’s done a tremendous job of playing within the system,” Beuerlein said. “But then again, the most unique aspect of his ability is his physical ability, and so when there are opportunities to make plays either with his legs or with his arm, he’s got to cash in and take advantage of those opportunities. He’s done it all year.”
Now he just needs to do it in the playoffs.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for him to really get a lot of people off his back who have been riding him pretty hard the last couple years about his maturity and whether he’s suitable to lead a team deep into the playoffs,” Beuerlein said. “I think he’s excited for the opportunity. He’s got a great team around him as far as the defense and the commitment to the running game, (so he doesn’t have to) carry this football team. I think it’s a great opportunity for him to establish himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the league.”
Asked which quarterback he’d rather have for the next five years – Newton, 24, or Kaepernick, 26 – Beuerlein wavered.
“Man, that’s another great question. This is such a tough question; you can make a case for either one of them,” he said. “I really love what Colin Kaepernick brings to the table. He’s played big in big games. We know he can do it in the playoffs. He did it again last week.”
“If I had to choose one of them, I would probably choose Kaepernick. My only reservation – and the reason I might swing it the other way – is Cam Newton does not get hit. Those hits take a toll. Kaepernick is more of a physical runner when he takes the ball down the field. He’s looking for someone to hit. But Cam Newton, it just seems to me that no one ever gets a clean shot on him. I think he may end up being able to play longer in the league because of his style. If that’s a factor in your mind, I think maybe you go with Cam Newton.”
“But based on what they’ve done to this point, it would be very hard to choose Cam Newton over Colin Kaepernick, in my mind.”