Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith threw his hat into the Tim Tebow debate Thursday, saying that his quarterback, fellow rookie phenom Cam Newton, is the better player.
Does he have a point? If you look at stats, then yes, as Newton clearly has the edge in that category. He’s the odds on favorite to be the runaway choice for rookie of the year. In fact, he’s on pace to become the first quarterback ever to pass for 4,000 yards and rush for 500 yards in the same season.
However, there’s the other important statistic: wins. And Tebow has more in eight games than Newton has in 13. So, which is more important? It’s almost an apples to oranges comparison, really. So Tebow doesn’t put up huge numbers. He’s charismatic and inspires confidence in his teammates.
And Newton? Carolina has had a shot to win almost all of their games this season, and once his team learns how to play 60 minutes, the wins will come for him too. So how does one quantify who’s better? In essence, it’s too early to tell.
Steve Smith’s comments are most likely out of Tebowmania fatigue coupled with pride in Newton, who’s strong arm has resurrected his previously flailing career. Since the rookie’s arrival, Smith has seen his own numbers rise drastically. He has 1,217 yards and five touchdowns this season, with three games left to play.
As Tebow improves every week in terms of traditional pocket passing mechanics, the smart money says that his and Newton’s career arcs will eventually meet in the middle. Newton will learn how to win; Tebow will learn how to throw. It’s similar to Peyton Manning (stats) versus Tom Brady (wins) a few years back. Over time, Manning won the big one, and the very next year Brady re-wrote the QB record book.
In the meantime, the right here, right now? It all depends on what you value in a quarterback. If you’re a Newton fan, it’s all about nice stats and a promising future. If you’re a Tebow fan, it’s all about this January.