Iâve scouted thousands of players and wouldnât make this statement lightly: Through two games, Cam Newton is the most impressive rookie quarterback I've seen come into the league.
Obviously, it's a small sample size for Newton, but he followed up his 422-yard debut with 432 passing yards against the defending world champion Packers, which feature a defense that blitzes and tries to confuse QBs as much as any team.
It looks like Newton has everything that you want in a quarterback: Size, arm strength and work ethic. While the first two traits have obviously been on display so far, the biggest question about Newton coming into the league was his attitude.
When I saw Newton in training camp, he made his share of mistakes. But what really stood out was when a drill ended, he would lead the charge to the next one. We're talking about the first overall pick in the draft. That's what you look for to see how a guy is going to be.
Another example of Newton's work habits can be traced back to when he first transferred to Auburn. In early 2010, he texted several of his new teammates, saying he would be working out every weekend if anyone wanted to join him. Initially, four guys showed. After four or five weeks, there were 40 players working out. His commitment helped Auburn win a national title.
Coming out of college, I think most NFL people were convinced Newton was a talented guy who lacked experience. He really only played 14 games of quality competition. However, any debate about whether he should go No. 1 overall ended at Auburn's pro day.
When it comes down to it, a lot of the issues people had about Newton's character were perception rather than reality. All the adversity that Newton faced at Auburn and leading up to the draft has made him mentally tough, and that's helping him do what he's doing now.
Newton's game reminds me of Ben Roethlisberger because of his size and strength. While Big Ben is no statue in the pocket, Newton has better movement. A lot of guys have a strong arm but don't know how to throw soft. If Newton needs to throw easy, he can. In scouting, prospects are graded by categories on one-to-nine scale, nine being outstanding and one being a reject. When it comes to accuracy, guys like Troy Aikman and Sam Bradford got a nine. While Newton isn't as accurate as those guys, he's still very good and would land in the seven range.
Now, I don't think Newton will continue to put up the same type of numbers, but he's going to be a big factor. The biggest thing he needs to work on is his recognition of where blitzes are coming from and understanding how defenses are going to try to confuse him with coverage. Coordinators will recognize he's a factor and teams are going to scheme for him.
» The Bills scored touchdowns on five straight possessions in the second half to rally pass the Raiders. That's the first time in league history a team has scored offensive touchdowns on five straight possessions in the second half.
» In Week 1, there were 752 points scored and 750 in Week 2. That's the most points scored in the first two weeks of a season. There were also a record 172 touchdowns in the first two weeks.
» With a win Sunday, the Lions would be 3-0 and have their best start since 1980, when they finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs.
» Since 2002, three teams have not made the playoffs: Detroit, Buffalo and Houston. All three are 2-0 right now.
» When Packers cornerback Charles Woodson, the 1997 Heisman winner, picked off Cam Newton, it marked the fourth time he intercepted a fellow Heisman winner. The other three quarterbacks were Vinny Testaverde, Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.
» Lions kicker Jason Hanson played in his 297th game with Detroit last week. That's the most games ever played for one team.
College player who helped his stock
Texas A&M running back Cyrus Gray has nine straight 100-yard rushing games dating back to last season. He extended the streak last week with 101 yards and two touchdowns against Idaho, who stacked the box trying to stop the run. Gray can turn the corner with this great speed and quickness. He's also a very good receiver and has experience returning kicks. At this point, he's likely moved up from a third-round pick to potentially coming off the board in the upper portion of Round 2.
Game to watch: Packers at Bears
There's nothing like the oldest rivalry in the NFL. So much history between these two teams with upsets common and fights known to occur.
For Chicago to win, stopping Aaron Rodgers and his arsenal of receivers will be crucial. The Bears can't give up big plays like they did last week against the Saints and will have to run the ball to control the clock. At this point, Matt Forte is really Chicago's only threat in the running or passing game, so the Packers will key on him.
Losing safety Nick Collins for the season will hurt Green Bay's defense going forward.
Jay Cutler has a lot of motivation heading into this matchup with everything that happened after the NFC title game. If he's the competitor I think he is, he'll come back and have a good game. Cutler will have to be careful not to try to do too much and force the ball.