Cam Newton has certainly been a divisive conversation topic in the NFL this season, but for the San Diego Chargers this weekend, he will be a tremendous challenge for their young defense. Mobile quarterbacks have always troubled the Bolts over the years, but they overcame a huge hurdle last Sunday by defeating Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road. This week at home, Newton will present a very similar challenge.
Chargers’ cornerback Quentin Jammer basically echoed my sentiments on the idea that Roethlisberger and Newton are parallel in their abilities, but he pointed out the one stark difference between the two. According to Jammer: “RG3 (Robert Griffin III) is probably the only guy that’s comparable to Cam’s athletic ability. They’re the only two guys in the league that are running that offense and doing a great job. Ben is a guy who can escape from pressure and make plays with his feet and arm, so we got a little bit of it, but obviously Cam is a little faster than Big Ben.”
A little faster was an intentional understatement for sure. Newton’s 6’5” 246lbs. frame moves at a clip of 4.58 seconds for 40 yards which is ridiculous regardless of position, but extremely dangerous when he touches the football every single play for the Carolina Panthers. Fortunately the Chargers will have to use a similar gameplan to the one used against Big Ben however and attempt to contain Newton in the pocket as much as possible. Allowing him to get out on the edge and extend plays with his legs is a dangerous proposition.
As for how the Bolts manage to restrain Newton’s ability to make things happen outside of the pocket, safety Eric Weddle provided a relatively sound blueprint. He said: “It’s simple if all 11 guys are doing it the right way. But if you get one guy not doing it, that’s where you get the big gashes.” The veteran corner Jammer went on to add: “You can’t freelance.” He said the biggest issue would be that defenders remain sound in their technique on Sunday.
More than anything, this game on Sunday will test the mental make-up of a relatively young San Diego defense. The club will have to prove that they are able to be disciplined with their assignments and keep everything in front of them. While Newton may be similar to Roethlisberger in many respects, he will present a bevy of additional hurdles that the Bolts must account for defensively. If they execute as they have gameplanned all week long, it should be another successful outing for a confident, maturing San Diego defense.
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