I don't think it was very difficult, whether from the conventional stats or just using your eyes, to discern that Cam Newton had a better rookie season in 2011 than Sam Bradford had in 2010. From those same stats it seems like it would be easy to decide Newton had a better Week 1 than Bradford in 2012—but according to at least one advanced metric, Football Outsiders' DYAR, Sam Bradford earned the narrow ex-super-hyped-rookie win. How to explain it, when Cam Newton finished with a Y/A over nine?â†µ
So far as I can tell, the difference was the one skill people ascribed to Bradford after the Rams' ultra-conservative 2010 season—his ability to avoid mistakes. Newton's "problem was big mistakes"—two interceptions and three sacks, along with some exceptionally poor third down performances. In the end, that made Sam Bradford the 20th-best quarterback in all the land, and Cam Newton the 23rd, at 46 and 22 DYAR.â†µ
While you're gloating, some other quarterbacks Bradford beat out: Matthew Stafford (22), Ben Roesthlisberger (26), Andrew Luck (29), and the immortal John Skelton. For much of the game the offense seemed only just in Bradford's hands—but it's clear that once he took control, in the fourth quarter, he did good things. So for at least one game, the Sam Bradford pick looked as franchise-changing as the Cam Newton pick.