Rookie QB's Better Than the Stats

Although Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert and Andy Dalton have only combined for five victories, the rookies are exceeding expectations in each of their cities. Find out how they're working tirelessly to improve the win-loss record.

We're not sure that the 2011 quarterback draft class will remind anyone of the legendary class of 1983 that produced Hall of Famers Dan Marino, John Elway and Jim Kelly. Still, Andy Dalton, Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert have improved each week and don't appear as if the stage is too big for them.

Dalton was the top rookie performer Sunday as he led his Bengals to a 27-17 victory over Indianapolis by completing 25 of 32 throws for 264 yards and a touchdown, with a quarterback rating of 111.5. Cincinnati has been perhaps the biggest surprise of the league as they're 4-2 and in position to compete for a wild card.

"Coming into the season, we weren't getting much credit," Dalton said. "As a team, we have the attitude that we're going to go out and prove everyone wrong. We've played well, and we've been in every game we've played."

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has exceeded most people's expectations while not winning football games, something that's difficult to accomplish. Newton scored his sixth rushing touchdown of the season, the second most by a rookie (behind Vince Young's 7 in 2006) since the merger in 1970. Although Cam's team dropped their game to the Falcons, Newton completed 21 of 35 throws for 237 yards, but threw three picks. With no help from the running game, Cam was the main reason for all of the Panthers offense.

"We have to execute," said Newton who took blame for the loss. "And that's on me. We all have to play better. Me. Everyone. But especially me."

Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert is still winless as a professional, but he keeps making strides despite playing with virtually no surrounding receiver talent, a makeshift offensive line and facing the best defenses football has to offer. Gabbert's latest adventure involved the Steelers defense without the assistance of his starting tackles. Gabbert managed to not turn the ball over while taking a solid beating which included five sacks. At the end of the day, Gabbert's touchdown drive that ended with a perfect strike to Jason Hill far outweighed any of his misfires.

"We're getting better as a team overall, but like I've always said we've got to win football games for us to feel good about ourselves and know that we're actually accomplishing something," Gabbert said prior to his 12 for 26, 79 yard, one touchdown performance.

Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and the host of "The Sports Crunch" on the Aquarius 7 Broadcasting Network (national), and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie

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