Film Breakdown: Championship QB's

Cam Newton and Peyton Manning aren't completely different. They both went to school in the SEC, were drafted #1 overall and have led their teams to Super Bowl 50. Alright, thanks for playing. That ends the similarities.

Newton is the most unique athlete in the history of the NFL. He's got arguably the strongest arm in the league attached to a 6'5", 250 pound frame. He's an absolute tank, which allows him to run and take hits that no other quarterback could stand up to. In fact, he's often delivering the blows. On top of his physical elite-ness, he's developed into a highly effective pro quarterback that's learned to play from the pocket at a very high level.

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Manning is arguably the smartest quarterback the league has ever seen. Despite the fact that his arm strength has greatly diminished, he's still effective because he's seen every defense an opponent can throw at him. It's impossible to trick him. He's not as effective as he once was thanks to his accuracy falling off this season, but he's still managed to find his way to his fourth Super Bowl. It might be cliche to say he's doing this on brains and guile, but it's also completely accurate.

Below are two plays that show off the skills of the two championship signal callers in a crack at a Cooley-less film breakdown.

Manning - TD Pass to Owen Daniels

This first quarter throw ended the Broncos first drive in six points. The Patriots look to be in a basic cover 2 zone. The two outside players have hook/flat responsibilities. The two high safeties (red boxes) are playing deep. It'll be up to the middle linebacker to cover the middle of the field between the two safeties. That player is Jamie Collins, who is lined up over the inside slot receiver, Owen Daniels, who has come in motion across the formation to his pictured spot below. Manning has seen this coverage roughly three billion times in his NFL career.

Note: the previous number is completely made up. But it's probably close...ish.


The Broncos have a hitch-fade combination on the outside with Daniels working the middle of the field. This route combination completely opens the middle of the field thanks to the slot receivers pressuring outside and deep. The safeties have to account for those routes, widening the space (blue box) in the middle of the field.

Daniels works Collins on a double move, getting behind him. Collins should be dropping (orange arrow), but instead falls for the move and stumbles forward.


Manning has a massive window to throw into (blue box, now bigger!). You can see how wide the safeties have gotten thanks to the deep developing routes. Both are nearly 10 yards outside the hashes. All Manning has to do is loft the ball over Collins and let Daniels run underneath it. He does. The Broncos took the lead and never gave it up.


Newton - QB Sweep, Rush TD

The Panthers offensive staff has done an incredible job over the past two season of figuring out how to use Cam Newton's unique set of skills to create the most versatile run game in the league. Ted Ginn's first quarter reverse touchdown was set up by the mere threat of Newton's ability to run. Here, they Panthers use that ability on a QB sweep.

Newton sends Mike Tolbert in motion and at the snap, Tolbert sprints away from the play, taking the middle linebacker with him. The look for this play is perfect. The hardest block in terms of angle is #68 Andrew Norwell, who has to get around the defensive tackle to seal him off. The other three down-blocks are all on great angles, while center Ryan Kalil (#67) and right guard Trai Turner (#70) will pull to block the corner and safety. The numbers and angles are all in Carolina's favor.




Norwell hits his block, as do the other linemen allowing for Newton to get the edge with relative ease. Greg Olsen has the toughest time, but the tight end does just enough to get Newton to the edge.

It's now 2-on-2 on the outside with the pulling linemen needing to block two defensive backs. That's harder than it sounds because of the quickness of the DB's, but it's a matchup in the Panthers favor.



Right tackle Michael Remmers (#74, on the 10 yard line) does an outstanding job sustaining his block, creating an alley for Newton to run in. Norwell destroys the corner (he'll finish the pancake in the next picture) and the play scoring will come down to Kalil landing on the safety.



Kalil lands his block as Newton steamrolls towards the end zone. He probably could've walked in around the edge, but he's Cam Newton, so he flies instead. Supercam leaps over the top of Kalil and the safety for six and the Panthers continued rolling into Super Bowl 50.



The two quarterbacks will surely be the focus of the next two weeks. Can Manning ride off into the sunset like John Elway did with the Broncos, as Elway promised when he recruited him a few years ago? Can Newton solidify himself as the face of the league with a title a la his friend Steph Curry did in the NBA?

All those storylines will be dissected over the next two weeks. The answers will heavily rely on their performances against the toughest test either will face all year.