In a recent interview with Stevland Wilson of ESPN The Magazine, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton went into an interesting treatise about the culture of winning, and his own role in rebuilding the Panthers. Wilson asked Newton what his emotions are in situations where he plays well and the Panthers don't win, and that opened up the floodgates.
"What happens when you take a lion out of the safari and try to take him to your place of residence and make him a house pet? It ain't going to happen. That's the type of person that I am. I'm that lion. The house that I'm in is somewhat of a tarnished house where losing is accepted. But I'm trying to change that, whether I'm going to have to turn that house into a safari, or I'm just going to have to get out of that house. I'm not saying I'm trying to leave this place. I'm just trying to get everybody on my level."
A lot of people are going to get up in arms about this, but there are additional factors to consider, and the emphasis on "quarterback wins" is a good place to start. While Cincinnati's Andy Dalton is credited for "winning" games in which he completed 10 of 15 for 81 yards (Cleveland), completed half his passes and threw two picks (Buffalo), and threw as many picks as touchdowns, Newton doesn't get any of that love, despite accounting for 26 total touchdowns in the first 12 games of his rookie campaign (13 passing, 13 rushing). Why? Because even when he plays well, the Panthers lose more often.
And why is that? Because, in part, the Panthers don't have Cincinnati's defense — they're a rebuilding team and Newton is asked to do far more than Dalton just to keep his team in games. Separating quarterback performance from team wins is an important step to analyzing just how well quarterbacks are actually playing.
Interesting fodder for discussion, which the NFL Network's Marshall Faulk, Kurt Warner, Warren Sapp, and Michael Irvin did on the NFL Network's Gameday Morning show. Were Newton's comments meant to be divisive, or is that kind of reality check part of changing the culture of losing? What do you think?