Cam Newton has earned the right to stake his claim to the Content Clickbait King throne. He was a former MVP, Heisman Trophy winner, national champion and Super Bowl contender. Newton recently had a wave of backlash for classifying Brock Purdy, Dak Prescott, Jared Goff and Tua Tagovailoa as game managers. Technically he didn’t insult them, but when you use that phrase, it’s implied. Returning to Newton is a waste of time. Not surprisingly, he throws shade at wildlife managers. Newton was built like a tree, used to sling cannonballs and often exchanged them with his legs. You took the good with the bad. Newton’s MVP season in 2015 was his magnum opus, even if he failed to win a Super Bowl. At his peak, he was high-risk, even higher-reward, until shoulder injuries limited him.
But let’s be clear here, if the quarterbacks he disparaged are game managers, maybe we need to rethink the negative connotation and rethink how we talk about these superstar sack managers. For decades, game manager has been a compliment to gun-shy, less-skilled quarterbacks who operate best behind the scenes, allowing their playmakers and defense to lead the way.
When we evaluate players as game managers compared to Newton or Josh Allen, we lose nuance.
Productivity-wise, you can make a case for Goff, but we need to redefine how we talk about game managers as a whole. Most of these game managers are actually superstar talent managers who put up spectacular numbers.
This requires a blind CV test.
Quarterback A: 3,400 total yards, 23 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 3,300 yards, a 60% completion rate, 4.5 TD%, 1.4 INT%,
Quarterback B: 3,900 total yards, 30 total touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 61.7% completion rate, 7.1 TD%, 2.0 INT%,
Quarterback C: 3,700 total yards, 28 total touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 60.8 completion rate, 5.9 TD%, 3.0 INT%,
Quarterback D: 3,700 total yards, 30 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 6.2 TD%, 1.3 INT%, 69.3 completion rate,
Quarterback E: 3,700 total yards, 27 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 7.0 field goal percentage, 1.9 INT%, 70.2 completion rate
Quarterback A is Alex Smith, the Michael Scott of game managers in 2013, his first season as Kansas City chief. That year, he threw 23 touchdowns, his career high until his final season as the head man when he had Tyreek Hill at his disposal, and still couldn’t match Newton’s best non-MVP campaign in either yardage or scoring. Meantime, Quarterback B is Cam Newton during his third season in the league. Newton has only just begun his rise, but the difference in production is huge. Even though he gave up twice as many turnovers as Smith. He was as explosive and highly flammable as any dynamic quarterback.
Quarterback C is a young Tom Brady at the beginning of his prime during the 2005 season. He’s the Ari Emanuel of talent managers, but he started out as a minor manager before evolving into a quarterback mogul, leaving the record books in tatters.
The latter two are Prescott and Purdy. Both of them push P (assing yards and keepin’ it real) to the top of the NFC standings. It’s not even worth examining how illogical it is for anyone to refer to Prescott as a game manager, much less someone who should know better like Newton. Prescott has always had the weight of the world on his shoulders as the Cowboys’ Lone Star quarterback. Dak’s Scooter Brown management style is recovering after losing much of the wagon following a rare turnover-happy 2022 season.
The perception of Purdy as a Darryl Philbin caliber warehouse manager is understandable. The former Mr. Irrelevant is brand new on the national landscape after accepting that the 49ers started working barely a year ago, he’s kind of a square and he wears a strong resemblance to Mark Madsen. But anyone who’s watched him since college knows that Purdy is part of the Kris Jenner behind-the-scenes management of Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, while occasionally whipping fans with his daring tendencies.
This season, however, he was a Marvel superhero and a possible MVP during a down year overall for quarterbacks. Game managers typically don’t earn the highest big-throw rate (25+ yard completions) in three decades while throwing single-digit interceptions through 14 weeks, or lead the league in touchdowns per pass attempt. Do you have a problem with receivers juicing the totals from the backfield after the catch? Game manager Patrick Mahomes led the entire league in yards after catch average in both of his MVP seasons.
Take a guess as to who leads the league in airports, which measures how many yards a pass moves behind the line of scrimmage before being caught? This is Tua Tagovailoa, the Rich Paul of gaming talent managers. Purdy and Prescott join him as the league leaders, comprising three of the four league leaders. Tagovailoa should be as grateful to Tyreek Hill as Paul is for crossing paths with LeBron James, but he’s carving a path as one of the most accurate deep-ball passers in the league. Most importantly, he is a stable and reliable steward of the Dolphins’ offense. He could stand to be a little more clutch, but he’s the engine behind Mike McDaniel’s plan.
If being a game manager is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Almost every quarterback in the league would trade places with these play managers. Hell, Cam Newton still wishes he could be them. All in all, game manager shouldn’t be an insult. It is a badge of honor.
Follow DJ Dunson on X: @cerebral sportsx