Has any other recent NFL MVP has a worse supporting cast than Cam Newton in 2015?
Cam has earned criticism for some mediocre seasons since his MVP year, plus his injuries giving him the worst quality of just being unavailable and inconsistent. However, in my opinion, I don’t think that era of the Carolina Panthers gave him much surrounding talent to work with at his peak.
So this question about his MVP year, in particular, makes me think. And it’s surprising to learn about the offence and special teams from that year.
- Best rusher was Johnathan Stewart (1088 total yards, 7 total TDs on 258 touches). He only had 1 TD and 16 receptions, so most touches were rushing where he averaged 4.1 yards per carrying. That’s fairly average in my opinion when you have a rushing threat like Cam. On top of that, he had 3 lost fumbles in the regular season and another one in the postseason.
- Best receivers were Greg Olsen (1104 yards and 7 TDs) and Ted Ginn (739 yards and 10 TDs).
- Next closest receivers were all hovering around 440-480 yards on the year: rookie Devin Funchess (only went above his rookie total yardage of 473 twice: 840 yards in 2017 and 549 yards in 2018), Jericho Cotchery (33 years old at the time and retired after the season ended), and Corey Brown (an undrafted second-year player who was out of the league after their following season in 2016).
- The team had 0 kickoff or punt return TDs, had only 5 defensive TDs all year, and were only 9th in total opponent TDs allowed.
They admittedly had an above-average year from Graham Gano (6th among kickers in field goals made and 1st among extra points attempted and made) and the defence had an elite turnover margin (1st in the league) thanks to a lot of INTs and fumbles recovered (both also 1st in the league). That helped their average drive start position a ton: 2nd in the league at their own 30.7-yard line.
But still, somehow Cam threw for 35 TDs, 3837 yards and ran for another 636 yards and 10 TDs. Without that much of a stacked team or points scored for him, especially on the offensive side.
The only other recent player who seemingly did most of the job on his own was this past year – Lamar Jackson. But can’t find anyone else in the last decade who’s comparable.
Sources: Pro Football Reference, FootballDB