The quarterback matchup in Super Bowl 50 perfectly embodies this group of words – past, present and future. All will be on display in Santa Clara on Sunday February 7th for us to enjoy.
Until then we have the opportunity to breakdown every facet of the game, including Denver’s choice as the ‘home’ team to wear white uniforms, having lost four times in their regular orange or blue togs.
Besides the best offense vs. best defense angle, nothing will be more discussed than the two quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Cam Newton.
Manning turns 40 in a couple months and looks the part of an aging superstar who is getting being by on guile, intelligence and the remaining talent in the tank. Though Manning talked about returning next season when injured, he reportedly told Bill Belichick after defeating New England, “this might be my last rodeo.”
This is not the case for Newton, who has risen up the ranks to be an elite quarterback and likely MVP this season and at 26 in his fifth season, has harnessed his immense and diverse abilities into complete package.
With one QB guaranteed a spot in the Hall of Fame and the other trying to reach those lofty heights, they collide in the present in a very unique duel.
Last year when Carolina was 3-8-1, there were faint whispers Cam Newton was headed on the same career path as RG3, a running quarterback with so-so mechanics, not really built for the rigors of the NFL. However, Newton lead his team to five consecutive victories before falling at Seattle in an Elite 8 encounter.
Though nothing has ever be specifically reported, the super-sized quarterback went to work on improving his game and it has been on display all year, leading Carolina to 17-1 record. The two most noticeable differences to scouts and sharp bettors making NFL picks is his improvement in passing mechanics and pre-snap reads.
Newton is never going to be Aaron Rodgers, with a high completion percentage and his 59.8 percent and 7.75 yards per pass attempt were merely the third-best numbers of his career. However, those hardly tell the story. Newton was more accurate on slant routes, throws in the seam and outside the numbers than at any point of his career, especially when it mattered. It is well known other the TE Greg Olson, not exactly an elite receiving group for the Panthers. He accomplished this with better understanding of defenses, looking off receivers, which allowed them to get open just a little more. This plus outstanding running ability made Newton the NFL’s best quarterback this season.
One of the most talked about aspects will be John Elway bringing in Manning and having him go out a winner like he did. They are called ‘fairy tales’ for a reason, but on occasion they do happen.