“Cam Newton’s all right, but he’s no Vinny Testaverde” says Steve Smith
Steve Smith has enjoyed a renaissance this season and returned to the ranks of the elite wide receivers in football. Already this season, he has caught 59 passes (more than all of last season) and broken the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the first time in three seasons with 1,060 yards. Many attribute the wide receiver’s resurgence to the drafting of Cam Newton, who many people are predicting will the the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Newton has obviously been a giant upgrade at the quarterback position for Carolina, though the Panthers have only won three games this season. While everyone has been quick to heap praise on the rookie phenom, Steve Smith thinks we need to pump the brakes a bit and ranks Cam Newton as only the third best quarterback he has played with in Carolina.
“I have to be honest, I would say Jake (Delhomme) is No. 1 because Jake’s career is over here in Carolina. Cam, he’s been in the league for about 15 minutes,” Smith said on this week’s “Dave Dameshek Football Program,” which airs on NFL.com. “I think that’s one of the things that the media does. They jump on a train too quick. But Jake played for a number of years, for various teams for various reasons, but at the end of the day, he played a long time because he made plays.”
“No. 2 would be a guy who’s probably surprising,” Smith said. “When Jake got hurt, we brought in Vinny Testaverde, and Vinny taught me some things to this day that I have at home on my nightstand. He taught me how to run some routes (from) all the guys he played with, Keyshawn (Johnson), Wayne Chrebet, he played with some guys I grew up admiring. So that’s why Vinny’s No. 2 and Cam’s No. 3.”
That’s right, according to Steve Smith, Cam Newton ranks behind Jake Delhomme and Vinny Testaverde in the pantheon of quarterbacks who have thrown passes to him. If being ranked behind Vinny Testaverde isn’t enough to lose you OROY, then I don’t know what is.
I can understand Smith’s appreciation of Delhomme, who spent seven seasons in Carolina and took the team to its only Super Bowl appearance in 2004 where they nearly upset the New England Patriots. But Vinny Testaverde? By virtue of playing with guys that Steve Smith admired growing up? Does that mean all Jimmy Clausen has to do to jump Cam Newton in Smith’s eyes is to get him a signed Jerry Rice photo? Cause I’m pretty sure Jimmy has the connections to pull that off.
It certainly couldn’t have been Testaverde’s level of play that put him ahead of Newton. Testaverde was brought into Carolina in the middle of the 2007 season after injuries left Carolina without a viable quarterback. He played seven games for the Panthers, completing 55% of his passes, averaging just 136 yards per game and throwing 5 touchdowns to 6 interceptions, leading the Panthers to a 7-9 finish. By comparison, Cam Newton is completing 61% of his passes and averaging over 280 yards per game passing in addition to rushing for 464 yards and ten touchdowns. That seems pretty good, but not Vinny good, apparently. I wonder if Cam can get his hands on any Cris Carter memorabilia…