Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney had a friendly quarterback debate Monday. Specifically, Barber said that he would take Cam Newton, 26, over Jameis Winston, 21, as his franchise quarterback, while Tierney likes the Buccaneers rookie, in part because of his age.
CBS Sports NFL writer Will Brinson broke the tie in a hurry.
“Oh, it’s not even close, guys. I would take Cam,” Brinson said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “And I like Jameis. I said Jameis was going to throw 30 picks this year, and that was probably wrong, but if you’re starting a franchise today – and I get that most people are going to end up saying Andrew Luck – I’m not so sure that Cam Newton isn’t your guy. I’m talking about long-term viability. We knew two years ago and we knew a year ago and we knew before the season started – and he said it himself and he wasn’t wrong – that Cam Newton had more potential than anyone in the entire NFL. But the growth that he showed as a pocket passer and mastering that offense and the way that he’s developed as a traditional quarterback, I would say it’s even surprised Cam.”
Newton is having an MVP season, which was highlighted by a five-touchdown performance in a come-from-behind win in New Orleans on Sunday. The Panthers (12-0) are the lone remaining unbeaten in the NFL, and Newton has been a big reason why. He has 32 touchdowns (25 pass, seven rush) to only 10 interceptions and has turned in a pair of five-touchdown games over the past three weeks.
“I’m not saying he’s playing the position better than Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers,” Brinson said, “but I think he’s the most dangerous, versatile weapon in the NFL. If you’re building a team and you see the sort of rapid growth that Cam Newton has made in his first five years in the league, you can make the case that if you’re starting a team and starting a franchise today that Cam Newton is the first guy you take. I’m definitely taking him over Jameis.”
Winston, to be fair, hasn’t been a slouch. He’s led the Bucs to wins in three of their last four games, including a 23-19 win over Atlanta on Sunday in which he threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Mike Evans with 1:39 to go.
“Look, Jameis has bene really good,” Brinson said. “(He’s) rebounded after kind of a poor start and has shown very nice game-management skills and an ability to bounce back from mistakes. Remember, he had a four-pick game against the Panthers, and ever since then, the Bucs took a little bit of this plate and tried to run the ball more effectively, and he’s looked like a much better quarterback.”
He’s also reinvigorated a downtrodden fan base – the Bucs are 6-6 after going 6-26 over the last two seasons – and has taken shots all over the field. He looks phenomenal.
“He does,” Brinson said. “And part of my biggest concern with him was that if you go back and watch his final season at Florida State, what you see is a guy who, when pressured from defenses in the pocket, is willing to force plays. I’ve just been surprised at his development in terms of his decision-making. He’s a very good quarterback. He has developed very nicely. If you’re Jason Licht, he deserves a lot of credit for the way he’s built that team and gotten them turned around quickly. And Lovie Smith, too. I think a lot of people were already (calling) for (his job) in Tampa Bay, (but) it seems like patience may be the more prudent path here for the Buccaneers’ coaching staff.”