Greg Schiano wasn’t around last year when the Panthers outscored the Buccaneers 86-35. He didn’t preside over the Panthers rolling up 718 total yards, 594 of which were accounted for by quarterback Cam Newton (throwing and running).
But Schiano knows stopping Newton is his foremost challenge this week, and is drawing a plan specifically for one opponent, like he did in college.
Of course, the Panthers do have help for Newton in running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, wide receiver Steve Smith and tight end Greg Olsen, but they know where it starts.
“He adds a dimension to the game that coming from college I’m probably more used to than some of the guys that have been in this league for a while,” Schiano said, via Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune. “Of course, just because you’re familiar with it doesn’t mean you can stop him. Not many people have. But it really isn’t about stopping him, because players like that are going to get their plays. What you do then is you just try to limit them, because that offense is an explosive offense.
“They’ve got an explosive player in [Newton], two explosive [backs] and explosive players at wideout and tight end. So you have to kind of pick where you’re spending your resources and hope the other guys don’t get you, which doesn’t sound very reassuring, does it?”
Of course, the Bucs are a different team than the ones Newton shamed a year ago. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy didn’t play in either matchup, and it’s easy to suggest that rangy safety Mark Barron and fast linebacker Lavonte David were drafted in the first two rounds with a multiple-threat opponent in mind.
Barron, who was on the wrong side of Newton at Alabama, said he sees a more disciplined player on tape.
“He was quick to take off and run more in college but now he’s a little more patient,” Barron said. “I also think he was a little underrated as a passer in college. Now, with that year under his belt, I don’t think he’s underrated at all.”
The Bucs are making sure he’s not when it comes time to game-plan, because the ones who were around last year know how dangerous he can be.