NFC South: Daunte Culpepper
The numbers do a nice job of putting his big day in a Carolina Panthers victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in perspective.
Newton became the first quarterback to rush for three touchdowns in a game since Daunte Culpepper in 2007.
The Carolina rookie also claimed a spot in the NFL record book. Newton now has 13 rushing touchdowns this season. The previous record was 12, set by Steve Grogan in 1976.
Newton still has four games left. Finishing with 20 rushing touchdowns isn't out of the realm of possibility.
Newton already is the first rookie in NFL history to throw for 10 touchdowns and run for 10 touchdowns in a season.
But Newton has a shot at more records, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He already has thrown for 3,093 yards, which ranks fourth in NFL history by a rookie quarterback. Peyton Manning (3,739 yards in 1998) holds the record. The only two other rookies to throw for more yards than Newton were Sam Bradford (3,512 yards last season) and Matt Ryan (3,440 in 2008).
With his 10 rushing touchdowns, Newton has a shot at a record that’s not just for rookies. Newton has a chance at the record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in NFL history. Steve Grogan set that record with 12 rushing touchdowns in 1976.
Kordell Stewart (1997), Tobin Rote (1956) and Johnny Lujack (1950) are tied for No. 2 with 11 touchdowns each. Newton now is tied with Daunte Culepper (2002) and (Billy Kilmer 1961).
- Caught a little bit of Adam Schein and Rich Gannon on SIRIUS NFL Radio and they were talking about the Atlanta Falcons being the best team in the NFC. I’m with them. That was already one of the thoughts I wrote down on the plane as I looked at the NFC standings this morning. No, I’m not ready to fully write off the Saints, but they’ve got some issues right now. I look around the rest of the NFC and I don’t see a team that’s more well-rounded or better coached than the Falcons right now.
- Speaking of airports, I ran into a personnel executive from an NFL team in an airport a few weeks ago and we started chatting about Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman. After watching the highlights of Freeman’s performance in Sunday’s victory against Cleveland, that conversation came back to me. I asked the personnel guy to compare Freeman to another quarterback and I threw out the name Donovan McNabb. The personnel man said there are some similarities, but said Freeman’s size makes him different than McNabb. He thought a little more and came up with an observation I thought was pretty strong. He said Freeman is on the way to becoming what Daunte Culpepper "could have been''. He then added that Freeman is a more “cerebral and mature’’ version of Culpepper and is getting better coaching than Culpepper did through much of his short-lived career that now has him in the United Football League.
- As I flew out of Charlotte this morning, I was pondering Carolina’s quarterback situation. Are the Panthers better off starting Jimmy Clausen or Matt Moore when they come back from the bye? I really couldn’t come to a conclusion. I think Clausen can develop into a decent NFL starter in time, but I worry that throwing him out there with the current supporting cast might ruin him forever.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Keith Hawkins, who hopefully got paid double-time by ESPN Stats & Information for working on Easter, dug up a bunch of numbers on Tampa Bay's quarterback situation after the Bucs signed Byron Leftwich.
First, Hawkins looked at the quarterbacks on every roster. Then he figured out which quarterbacks with which teams made the fewest starts in 2008 and the answer is a little scary for Bucs fans.
According to Hawkins, the Jets (Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff and Erik Ainge) don't have a quarterback who started a game last season. The Patriots' quarterbacks only made one start. But there's comfort in the fact that that start was made by Tom Brady, who is expected to be fully recovered from injury.
The Bucs are tied for third in this category. Brian Griese started five games for them last year and they really don't want him starting this year. That's why they plan to let Leftwich battle with Luke McCown. The Detroit Lions tied with the Bucs as Daunte Culpepper made five starts.
Now, lets take a look at the Bucs and their five quarterback starts compared to the rest of the NFC South. It's not even close. The Falcons, Panthers and Saints got all their starts from quarterbacks still on their roster. In fact, Matt Ryan, Jake Delhomme and Drew Brees started every game for their team.
Finally, let's take a look at the career records of Tampa Bay's four quarterbacks as starters. Leftwich is 24-22. Griese has a 45-38 career record. McCown is 1-6. Finally, Josh Johnson, who was drafted last year, has not made a start.