Lamar Jackson may be the gold standard for the NFL’s rushing quarterbacks in 2020, but he made sure to give credit to the “O.G.” this season.
In this case, the ‘original gangster’ Jackson is referring to is Cam Newton. The duo faced off for the first time as starters in the NFL on Week 10’s “Sunday Night Football” on NBC when the Patriots host the Ravens. Jackson started watching Newton at Auburn and wanted to be like him.
As far as dual-threat quarterbacks go, Newton has set a high bar in the NFL. He’s lived up to his “Superman” moniker that Jackson repeated multiple times in Week 10. Newton’s the all-time leading rushing TD scorer among quarterbacks in league history, and while Jackson (along with Kyler Murray and Josh Allen) will likely make a run at it, Newton ran for an additional 12 touchdowns in 2020. He’s not making catching him on that leaderboard an easy task, but Jackson can’t wait to share the field with him.
“He’s a mobile quarterback. He does his thing,” Jackson told media in Week 10. “He won the Heisman, won the college championship, won MVP, went to the Super Bowl. I followed him a lot, wanted to get to where he’s at. Now I’m here, now I’ve got to play against him. I just can’t wait to do that.”
MORE: Remembering the time Lamar Jackson leaped over a defender in college
Who has the most rushing TDs as a quarterback?
Cam Newton has the most rushing touchdowns of any quarterback in NFL history, and he’s still adding to his total. After Week 17 of the 2020 season, Newton has run for 70 touchdowns. Here’s the list of the top 10 all-time QBs at scoring via the ground:
- Cam Newton – 70
- Steve Young – 43
- Jack Kemp – 40
- Steve McNair – 37
- Tobin Rote – 37
- Michael Vick – 36
- Randall Cunningham – 35
- Steve Grogan – 35
- Daunte Culpepper – 34
- John Elway, Otto Graham, Y.A. Tittle – 33
There’s still a decent way to go for a number of the best rushing quarterbacks still active in the NFL. Here’s a look at how some of them compare to the best rushing scorers at the QB position all-time (all stats as of Week 17 of the 2020 season).
- Josh Allen – 25
- Russell Wilson – 21
- Lamar Jackson – 19
- Kyler Murray – 15
And in case you were wondering about some of the more crafty, veteran quarterbacks?
- Aaron Rodgers – 31
- Drew Brees – 25
- Tom Brady – 24
Comparing Cam Newton to Lamar Jackson as runners
Everyone knows Newton is a threat as a runner, and everyone knows Jackson is a threat as a runner. But that doesn’t mean they do it in the same way.
Newton is a large man, measuring 6-5 and 245 pounds. They don’t make running backs the size of Newton, but the best comparison in terms of the difficulty in bringing him down would be Derrick Henry. Newton’s size makes him a near impossibility to stop down near the goal line. In his career, 58 of Newton’s 66 rushing TDs (88 percent) have come from inside the 10-yard line.
Jackson isn’t small, but his 6-2 and 212-pound frame plays out much differently as a rusher than Newton’s. He’s a master of juking defenders figuratively out of their shoes. He runs away from people once he gets space in the secondary. He doesn’t invite contact in the same way as Newton. That’s led to six of Jackson’s 15 NFL rushing touchdowns (40 percent) coming from outside the 10-yard line.
Despite their differences in style, though, Newton and Jackson are both immensely difficult to bring down.
Most broken tackles in a single season by non-RBs over the past three years (PFF)
2018 Cam Newton (20)
2018 Lamar Jackson (20)
2018 Odell Beckham Jr. (20)
2018 Golden Tate (23)
2017 Tate (23)
2019 Jackson (29 and counting) pic.twitter.com/KhVAkC94tl
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) November 19, 2019
If you’re looking for a Newton comparison, it’s likely Josh Allen in Buffalo, who finishes off drives with punishing runs at the goal line. Jackson and Murray are more in the shifty-mold of Michael Vick. Either way, they both add a dimension that defenses don’t normally have to account for.
Before this age of mobile quarterbacks, a defense could essentially count on the QB staying in the pocket. Vick and Newton really started pushing us into an era where that’s no longer true, and Jackson, Murray and Allen are pushing it to a whole new level. If defenses don’t account for the quarterback, they’re going to get burned. And with Newton first and now Jackson, even when the defense pays attention to them, they often have no chance of stopping these dual-threat stars.