On May 29, imagine with me Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan following up his Most Valuable Player of the Year campaign with a season in which he completes an absurdly low 52.9 percent of his passes.
It’s difficult, right?
Now imagine Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton following up his own MVP year by completing 52.9 percent of his passes the following season.
That scenario’s a lot easier to imagine — because it actually happened.
Newton came back to Earth in a big way in 2016, throwing the most passes since his rookie year (510) and completing 270 of them — the second lowest of his career.
Since Week 11, the Panthers quarterback had five outings in which he completed 48.3 percent or worse of his passes, with a season-low 37.0 coming against the San Diego Chargers in Week 14. His highest of 56.8 came against the Washington Redskins in Week 15.
On the year, Newton’s best outing was 62.5 against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 9.
Would Ryan ever be as woefully inaccurate? The Falcons quarterback has completed under 60 percent of his passes just once in his career, and that was in 2009. Ryan started 14 games that year.
The 58.3 percent of passes Ryan completed in 2009 isn’t too far off from Newton’s career-best of 61.7. And of course, Newton doesn’t come anywhere close to Ryan’s career-best of 69.9.
Even in 2013 when Ryan had neither protection nor weapons — both excuses made consistently for Newton — he still managed to connect on a career-high 439 passes on 651 attempts, a smooth 67.4 completion percentage.
Would Ryan ever complete 52.9 percent of his passes? I think we can all agree that’s a rhetorical question.