Cam Newton has become famous for his scrambles with his infinite athleticism translating into physics-defying plays on the field. Many of his runs are reminiscent of Michael Vick and even Barry Sanders, breaking the ankles of even the most agile defenders, and at 6-foot-5 240-pounds to boot. But while these plays are exciting and ultimately lead to yardage they are seemingly positive symptoms of a crippling issue. These scramblers only scramble out of necessity because their offensive lines don’t have the talent or the chemistry to keep the pocket clean. They just happen to have great running instincts, and those seemingly broken plays become highlight-reel runs.
Newton has matured quite a bit as a quarterback this season, being on pace to set multiple personal records and leading the Carolina Panthers to a 7-3 record. He has been exceedingly efficient this year, but he still overthrows a few balls a game and still has to scramble sometimes. His scrambles on Monday night against the New England Patriots were works of art, eluding defenders multiple times to pick up key yards on third down. Carolina’s depleted offensive line had a lot of difficulty keeping Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones out of the backfield, leaving Newton to pick up the slack.
The Panthers have two stars up front in Jordan Gross and Ryan Kalil, but injuries to Amini Silatolu, Garry Williams and Chris Scott have left the guard position decimated with only Travelle Wharton and former defensive lineman Nate Chandler to fill the void. Chandler held up well against a stout San Francisco 49ers‘ front last Sunday, but he had difficulties keeping up with New England’s complex scheme. The line will need to step against the Miami Dolphins to pull out a victory. The defense will surely do its part, and Newton will need time to put points on the board. They will have their hands full against Cameron Wake, who they will double team all game if they are smart.