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Cam waits for the 4th quarter to arrive

Cam waits for the 4th quarter to arrive

In the 4th quarter and in overtime this year, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton has been really, really good.  Newton has completed 54 of 83 passes for 733 yards with 6 touchdown throws and just one interception, along with five sacks for -35 yards.  Newton is therefore averaging an impressive 8.78 Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt after 45 minutes have gone by in each game; among quarterbacks with at least 40 pass attempts this year, that’s the second best average in the league, a hair behind Tom Brady (8.81) and just ahead of Carson Palmer (8.59). (Although I will note that noted clutch quarterback Tony Romo is averaging 9.77 ANY/A on 21 4th quarter/overtime pass attempts this year.)

Below are the passing stats from every quarterback this year in the 4th quarter and overtime so far in 2015:

RkQuarterbackCmpAttPYdsTDIntSkYdsANY/A
1Tom Brady8513311421127-398.81
2Cam Newton5483733615-358.78
3Carson Palmer71112945816-468.59
4Tyrod Taylor4569623618-598.30
5Alex Smith5793751618-417.77
6Philip Rivers961441166829-637.67
7Andy Dalton68104844727-457.65
8Russell Wilson73106863519-577.49
9Aaron Rodgers75123950929-617.42
10Brian Hoyer4989653723-247.38
11Eli Manning73123889825-397.19
12Josh McCown5072644538-596.88
13Sam Bradford5475594426-346.79
14Andrew Luck68117833945-246.63
15Jay Cutler62108751524-196.63
16Matthew Stafford881371015537-506.46
17Ben Roethlisberger4170590754-286.45
18Colin Kaepernick39725424110-496.44
19Brock Osweiler2443316314-296.43
20Drew Brees911471126667-516.01
21Matt Hasselbeck3045315213-226.00
22Kirk Cousins97146909524-295.93
23Joe Flacco70127839533-335.93
24Blake Bortles83161110612613-585.85
25Ryan Fitzpatrick65113740752-105.61
26Matt Ryan88128910659-615.43
27Teddy Bridgewater681057912214-985.40
28Jameis Winston67116768438-455.39
29Ryan Tannehill801449537314-1405.18
30Peyton Manning4071532453-175.00
31Marcus Mariota6199671549-554.96
32Matt Cassel4070427334-174.53
33Johnny Manziel2450281216-384.25
34Nick Foles52100610354-294.00
35Derek Carr76130777375-333.62
36Mark Sanchez2844288134-143.31

And below are the passing stats from every quarterback in the 1st through 3rd quarters this season, minimum 120 attempts:

RkQuarterbackCmpAttPYdsTDIntSkYdsANY/A
1Derek Carr196297242223211-718.83
2Carson Palmer221342305823815-868.61
3Ben Roethlisberger1602352117848-538.41
4Andy Dalton183276231118413-768.36
5Russell Wilson168246213616629-1437.43
6Tom Brady238374277020422-1267.23
7Marcus Mariota145226184114521-1347.13
8Drew Brees215309235617520-1457.07
9Jameis Winston154261211414815-1126.96
10Jay Cutler16725719619512-656.88
11Tyrod Taylor131202154811317-1276.88
12Ryan Fitzpatrick181296212615612-656.79
13Aaron Rodgers185303203517320-1466.48
14Kirk Cousins193277212412816-1056.48
15Matt Ryan227349256311814-926.42
16Eli Manning219346243416815-806.41
17Brian Hoyer139218154911415-1046.37
18Philip Rivers240355254815721-1406.36
19Alex Smith18528320928230-1846.32
20Josh McCown13622014657115-916.25
21Cam Newton164291206419917-1326.19
22Matt Hasselbeck83131877637-236.08
23Blake Bortles190312217215722-1376.05
24Ryan Tannehill187289211914919-1495.99
25Matthew Stafford201308214917924-1355.87
26Joe Flacco19628619529913-895.48
27Teddy Bridgewater18127719177623-1745.38
28Sam Bradford17428418199813-955.20
29Nick Foles13823714424510-684.98
30Peyton Manning153251164851212-764.30
31Colin Kaepernick10517210732418-1174.29
32Andrew Luck9417610486810-703.97

Newton’s raw stats are not great this year, but the Panthers are 12-0. There are many reasons for that — a great defense, a great running game (in part, aided by Newton), perhaps traditional stats don’t quite capture what Newton’s vertical passing game brings to the table1 — but here’s a simple one: he’s been outstanding in the 4th quarter, and that is where most high-leverage plays occur. In fact, Newton’s ANY/A in s 2.59 yards per attempt high in the 4th quarter/overtime than it is in the first three quarters; that’s the second highest increase of any passer this year.

RkQuarterbackANY/A 1Q-3QANY/A 4Q/OTDiff
1Andrew Luck3.976.632.66
2Cam Newton6.198.782.59
3Colin Kaepernick4.296.442.14
4Sam Bradford5.206.791.59
5Tom Brady7.238.811.57
6Alex Smith6.327.771.45
7Tyrod Taylor6.888.301.42
8Philip Rivers6.367.671.30
9Brian Hoyer6.377.381.01
10Aaron Rodgers6.487.420.93
11Eli Manning6.417.190.78
12Peyton Manning4.305.000.70
13Josh McCown6.256.880.62
14Matthew Stafford5.876.460.59
15Joe Flacco5.485.930.45
16Russell Wilson7.437.490.06
17Teddy Bridgewater5.385.400.03
18Carson Palmer8.618.59-0.01
19Matt Hasselbeck6.086.00-0.08
20Blake Bortles6.055.85-0.20
21Jay Cutler6.886.63-0.26
22Kirk Cousins6.485.93-0.55
23Andy Dalton8.367.65-0.71
24Ryan Tannehill5.995.18-0.81
25Nick Foles4.984.00-0.98
26Matt Ryan6.425.43-0.99
27Drew Brees7.076.01-1.06
28Ryan Fitzpatrick6.795.61-1.18
29Jameis Winston6.965.39-1.58
30Ben Roethlisberger8.416.45-1.97
31Marcus Mariota7.134.96-2.17
32Derek Carr8.833.62-5.21

Of course, whether Newton’s 4th quarter heroics are repeatable or sustainable is a very different question. But when trying to figure out why Newton’s numbers feel incongruous with the overall feel of Newton’s game this season, this is probably a big reason why.

(Oh, and man, that Derek Carr line!)

  1. Although I doubt that one. Newton’s average pass travels an impressive 10.47 yards in the air, third highest in the league. But the top two players in this metric are Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer, who both rank in the top three in ANY/A. If anything, yards per attempt is biased in favor of downfield throwers. []
  • Richie

    Interesting to see Luck at #1 in the differential list. That’s exactly what my memory thinks of him: a guy who throws interceptions early in the game to get the team behind, only to have furious comebacks late in the game. It’s almost like he just wants to create a high degree of difficulty for himself in the fourth quarter.

    • Tom

      Yep, I agree. His quintessential game might be the WC game against KC in 2013…after throwing three interceptions that probably should have cost the Colts the game, he leads the offense on three TD-scoring drives to win. I guess it’s just how he rolls…

  • I find it interesting that Tannehill has lost 42 more yards than Bridgewater in the 4th quarter despite taking the same number of sacks. And Tannehill’s 140 sack yards lost in the 4th is only 9 fewer than the total sack yards lost in quarters 1-3. In quarters 1-3, he’s 3rd in sack yards lost while only taking the 11th most sacks.

    On the year in total, Tannehill has lost almost 100 more yards in sacks than the next closest QB, despite not taking the most sacks. Having watched all the games I’d speculate that there’s two reasons; he has maybe the worst two guards in the league trying to protect him and he often doesn’t step up in the pocket (maybe because he knows the guards are terrible).

    • Richie

      Unfortunately, I don’t get to see the Dolphins as often as I’d like to (or maybe it’s better that way). But this is one of my concerns about Tannehill. He seems to lack pocket presence. Most of the good QB’s have a way of avoiding sacks, even when the player is coming from the blind side. But, Tannehill seems to have 1 or 2 sacks every game where he is standing there and gets sacked without making any attempt to throw or get out of the way.

      I assume this is a natural ability – not a learned skill.

      But, I know his offensive line isn’t doing him any favors. I saw a list somewhere ranking the top guards in the NFL. The Dolphins have 3 guards who rank amongst the 6 worst.

      • Yeah it’s likely better you don’t get to see them much. Last week was particularly ugly.

  • Tom

    Yeah, Carr and the Raiders just imploded in that KC game…amazing to see the difference between his 1-3 and 4th quarter performance. And he faces Denver this weekend…yikes.

  • sacramento gold miners

    Cam Newton is maturing as a team leader, and that’s playing a role in Carolina’s success. The younger Newton would have wanted to put up bigger numbers, but he realizes the formula is working, I don’t think the earlier version of Cam Newton pulls out the win at Seattle this season.