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Cam Newton criticized while Matthew Stafford ignored

Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford both have thrown five touchdown passes and six interceptions this season. Both were drafted with the No. 1 overall pick and play for teams expected to contend for the playoffs.

So why does it feel like Carolina Panthers QB Newton is being roasted on a weekly basis while Detroit Lions QB Stafford's struggles slip under the radar?

We've watched almost every start from both quarterbacks this year on our trusty Game Rewind. There is no doubt in my mind Stafford is struggling more, although Newton's season is headed in the wrong direction.

Stafford's mechanics and accuracy have been erratic. He only puts drives together when the Lions are trailing and routinely makes poor decisions. Newton also continues to make critical mistakes -- especially in the red zone -- that hurt his team's chances of winning. He hasn't handled pass pressure as well as during his rookie year or made great decisions in Carolina's option running attack.

But it's too convenient to ignore that Newton still does a lot of things well. Newton is third in the NFL in yards per attempt. Stafford is 26th. Newton has 273 rushing yards (second among QBs) and three touchdowns. He's seventh among all rushers in runs over 20 yards and eighth among quarterbacks in throws over 20 yards. He still has been explosive, just not consistent.

This isn't to excuse Newton's struggles; he has taken a step back. But he's a 23-year-old starting quarterback coming off perhaps the greatest rookie season in NFL history. The questions about if he will "ever" get it are laughable. The volume of criticism sent his way instead of a fourth-year pro like Stafford is troubling.

We already can hear the arguments: The criticism is more about Newton's demeanor and his press conferences than his play. Watch a Matthew Stafford press conference. Once you wake up, explain to me how many games he won with his messaging. Press conferences are overrated, and the selective soundbite choices from Newton often ignore the main takeaway. He's a bad loser. It needs to get better. He's 23. As weaknesses go, I'll take it. It's about how a quarterback plays that matters.

Newton will play better. He continues to show way too many elite quarterback characteristics to just fall apart. Stafford, still just 24 years old, will play better, too.

They are both young quarterbacks. This is what happens. It just doesn't make sense that Newton is being pilloried while Stafford's struggles are being ignored.

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