Comparing First Starts of Newton, RGIII, Manziel, Tebow

December 16, 2014 Updated: December 23, 2014

Newton, RGIII, Manziel, Tebow — these were all highly heralded running QB’s who were drafted into the league at extremely high draft positions, which was unthinkable before for a running quarterback.

Since Manziel got his first start last Sunday, just for fun, lets compare how each of them performed in their first starts, and where they went from there.

Cam Newton

24/37, 422 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception, 8 carries for 18 yards and a touchdown

Newton was actually quite pedestrian in the preseason of 2011, but started his rookie season on fire, throwing for two straight 400 yard games — and this is a guy who’s pocket passing is not his strength. Obviously, Newton wouldn’t maintain this level of passing, but he still ended the year with the rookie passing record – 4051 yards, and the all-time quarterback rushing record – 14 rushing touchdowns.

Unfortunately, he would digress in every season since, which just seems like the given trajectory for running quarterbacks(Vince Young). They look very promising at first, but as defenses adapt to their skill sets over time, their ineptitude in pocket passing catches up to them, rendering them completely effective.

Now obviously Newton isn’t completely ineffective right now by any means, but he really has slid down, albeit quietly.

With two games left in the 2014 season, Newton has 2812 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns. His rushing yard total has also digressed every season since his rookie season. Oh well, at least his health is excellent.


19/26, 320 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 9 carries for 42 yards

A rookie of the year like Cam Newton, RGIII was also quite impressive his rookie season.

But like other running quarterbacks, at some point their running starts to go – for instance, all seven of RGIII’s touchdowns his rookie season were in the first half of the season.

And then of course we had the injury problems, and gradually RGIII has been reduced to what he is today. He actually hasn’t scored any rushing touchdowns since his rookie season, thanks in part to a crucial call that got overturned this past Sunday.

Johnny Manziel

10/18, 80 yards, 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 5 carries for 13 yards

Manziel’s first start was as ugly as it gets, period. If there’s any consolation, unlike Newton and RGIII, Manziel was playing a team that was already in mid-season form in a crucial divisional matchup.

Now we don’t know what the future holds for Johnny football/Johnny interception, it would seem things have nowhere to go but up for Manziel…right?

Tim Tebow

8/16, 138 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions, 8 caries for 78 yards and a touchdown

I don’t know about you, but Tebow’s first start was actually quite promising! Tebow was drafted into a team headed by Josh McDaniels, known for being the quarterback guru that molded Tom Brady.

Also, he pulled off this in first start:

But the rest is history. Tebow’s first string of starts were in 2010. In the 2nd half of 2011, he took over the position permanently, and was a humongous media sensation as the Broncos were winning. However, during this time all of Tebow’s problems became very apparent – footwork, accuracy, etc.., and after a very ugly end to the season(minus a playoff win against Steelers) Tebow never saw significant action again. Where is he now anyway?

And finally, we can’t conclude that running quarterbacks can’t be elite, because Russel Wilson is doing pretty well right now. You know, he’s won a Superbowl, and is running game hasn’t gradually fallen off like some of these other guys.