The Carolina Panthers are 6-0 in large part due to their defense, but quarterback Cam Newton isn't to be taken lightly either. Newton is a very dangerous player to try to defend, as he provides a threat both in the passing and running game.
So far this year, Newton has completed 55.8% of his passes for 1,275 yards (7.04 yards per attempt), 9 touchdowns, and 7 picks, but he has added 245 yards and four scores on the ground. In his career so far since being selected first overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, Newton has thrown for 15,701 yards and 91 touchdowns, adding 2,816 yards and 37 touchdowns on the ground (by far the most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in that span). Newton is a very tough player to defend because of that dual-threat ability.
"He's kind of like if you would create a player on Madden, he would kind of look like Cam," Colts cornerback Darius Butler, who played with Newton in Carolina in the quarterback's rookie season in 2011, said on Wednesday. "He's got all the tools. He's got the arm, got the athletic ability, so it's going to be a big task for our defense on Monday."
Of course, Butler's current quarterback might have something to say about that (as Andrew Luck is very talented and has the traits you want, too), but Butler has a point: Newton has the tools you want in a quarterback, as he can throw the ball and is athletic enough to make a lot of plays on the ground too. That's the ideal player in the Madden video games, and Butler knows it. It's not just in video games, however - Newton is hard to defend in real life as well.
"He's a dual threat," inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said. "He can run the ball, he can pass the ball and they do a great job of running the read option. One of his top targets is (Greg) Olsen, so you have to understand where he is everywhere on the field. With Cam he has the arm strength to throw it 50 yards off his back foot and he's also capable of breaking down the defense when there's great coverage down the field. He's elusive enough to gain first downs with his legs. He does a good job of mixing it up. I wouldn't say he's a run-first, pass guy second. He runs where the defense allows him to and that's what makes him dangerous."
Head coach Chuck Pagano agreed, noting that Newton provides a tough challenge to defend against. "You've got to deal with him as a runner," Pagano said. "You've got to deal with him as a thrower. He's got a really strong arm. He can make all the throws. When things breakdown, his ability to extend plays is outstanding. At 6-6, 255 pounds and running 4.4-4.5, the average man can't get him on the ground. It's going to take more than one guy. Then in the red area, they've got all the quarterback runs, quarterback sweep, quarterback power, quarterback draw. You've only got 11 guys. You put the eighth defender in the box and they can account for everybody if you hand the ball off. If you don't hand the ball off, now it's the quarterback, who's going to take the quarterback? It's going to take great discipline to take care of this guy in all phases of his game."
If the Colts hope to get their first non-division win of the season on Monday night in Carolina against the undefeated Panthers, they will need to stop Cam Newton, which is much easier said than done. He's very talented and brings the added dimension of running the football that the Colts must account for. Unless they can stay disciplined and defend Newton both in the air and on the ground, it's unlikely they will be able to slow Newton and the offense down enough to pull out the win. It's a tough challenge, and the Colts know they'll need to be ready for the former first overall pick.