I want to tell you why I decided to write about this topic before I go into the debate. The starting quarterback for every NFL team is always being graded for their performance on and off the field. They are either criticized or praised depending on their play and lifestyle. Recently a kid from Virginia wrote an article stating that Cam Newton would be better if he was a running back. He wrote, “The team never seems to win and I think he is the reason. He gets intercepted a lot.” Where do you think he learned this from? His Dad? The Media? The Fans?
Let's talk about the starting quarterbacks for the Carolina Panthers. This past season marked the Panthers 20th season since being established in 1995. Since 1995, the list of starting quarterbacks consists of: Kerry Collins, Frank Reich, Steve Beuerlein, Chris Weinke, Matt Lytle, Rodney Peete, Randy Fasani, Jake Delhomme, Vinny Testaverde, David Carr, Matt Moore, Jimmy Clausen, Brian St. Pierre, Derek Anderson, and Cam Newton.
Only four of these quarterbacks started at least three seasons or more for the Panthers. These four quarterbacks are Kerry Collins, Steve Beuerlein, Jake Delhomme, and Cam Newton. Out of this list of four quarterbacks only Collins, Delhomme, and Newton have brought the Panthers to the NFL Playoffs.
So the poll question is who the greatest quarterback of all-time for this franchise?
Kerry Collins (1995-1998)
Kerry Collins was the very first draft pick for the Carolina Panthers organization, and was my favorite player. I even had a hat with his initials. He took the Panthers to the NFC Championship in only his second season. Following the loss in the NFC Championship to the Green Bay Packers Collins made a bold statement to the fans. Kerry Collins said, “What you've witnessed is the beginning of a dynasty.” Well he did the talking, but not the walking. Shortly after this his personal life and NFL career went downhill. He directed a racial slur at a teammate, and admitted to a drinking problem. Both of these issues led to isolation from the team. The Panthers tried to help but he was in denial. After the Panthers started the 1998 season 0-4, he asked to be traded. Collins was then placed on waivers, and picked up by the New Orleans Saints.
Career with Carolina Panthers:
- Career Regular Season Stats – 618/1178 52.6% 7,295 Passing Yards 39 TD 49 INT
- Career Regular Season Record (41 GP) – 22 – 16
- Career Postseason Stats – 31-59 52.5% 315 Passing Yards 3 TD 3 INT
- Career Playoff Record (2 GP) – 1-1
- Career Highlights and Awards – Pro Bowl (1996), NFC Championship
Jake Delhomme (2003 – 2009)
The Rajin’ Cajun signed with the Panthers in 2003. Delhomme won the starting job that same season after his comeback victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Delhomme also took the Panthers to Super Bowl XXXVIII that season where they lost to the New England Patriots, and Janet Jackson had a wardrobe malfunction. Jake Delhomme had a special connection with star wide receiver Steve Smith, and they set several franchise passing, and receiving records together. In 2009, the Panthers decided to give Jake Delhomme a 5-year contract extension worth $42.5 million, with a $20 million guarantee. This was a shocker because he just threw five interceptions against the Arizona Cardinals in the 2008 NFL playoffs. After signing the extension Delhomme struggled significantly. After another loss and four more interceptions, Steve Smith told Jake Delhomme, “I never liked you as a quarterback. But as a person, that's who I love.” Delhomme broke his finger that season, was placed on injured reserve, and was eventually released on March 5, 2010.
Career with Carolina Panthers:
- Career Regular Season Stats – 1,580/2,669 59.5 % 19,258 Passing Yards 120 TD 89 INT
- Career Regular Season Record (90 GP) – 53 – 37
- Career Postseason Stats – 130/226 57.5% 1,847 Passing Yards 12 TD 10 INT
- Career Postseason Record (8 GP) – 5-3
- Career Highlights and Awards – Pro Bowl (2005), NFC Champion (2003), Super Bowl XXXVIII, Franchise All-Time Leader (Career Wins, Pass Attempts, Pass Completions, Passing Yards, Passing Tds and Interceptions)
Cam Newton (2011 -)
Cam Newton is the most athletically gifted quarterback in the NFL. He is known as a dual-threat quarterback that can extend the play with both his feet and arm. He was the Carolina Panthers number one draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and was the 2011 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Newton made a big splash into the NFL in his first game against the Arizona Cardinals. Newton went 24-37 passing for 422 yards, threw two touchdowns, and one interception. He had a quarterback rating of 110.4, and rushed for one touchdown. He broke Peyton Manning's rookie record for most passing yards in his NFL debut. He also was the first rookie quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a season, rush for 700 yards, and score 14 rushing touchdowns.
Ever since Newton's record breaking rookie season his career has been watched under a microscope by the fans and media. They say he hasn't lived up to expectations, he isn't a leader, and doesn't have the right technique. But what people don't understand is that Cam loves and plays the game his way. He is maturing and leads by example. Remember when he got in a car accident? Superman returned to the field and led the Panthers to a division title. Newton has led the Panthers to back to back NFC South titles and has played in three playoff games. The 2015 NFL season should be a great year for Cam Newton. He is healthy, the offensive line should be solid, and he should have some offensive weapons on the roster.
Career with Carolina Panthers:
- Career Regular Season Stats – 1,144/1,923 59.5% 14,426 Passing Yards 82 TD 54 INT
- Career Regular Season Record (62 GP) – 30-31-1
- Career Postseason Stats – 57/93 61.3% 711 Passing Yards 5 TD 5 INT
- Career Postseason Record (3 GP) - 1-2
- Career Highlights and Awards – NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Pro Bowl (2011, 2013), NFL Single Season Record (Most Rushing Tds by QB), Rookie Season QB Records (Completions, Yards, Passing Tds, Completion %, and Passer Ratings)