It’s no secret that the Patriots struggle with mobile quarterbacks. Last week, they had a hard time stopping Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. This week, they’ll get a chance to neutralize Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
On Wednesday, reporters asked coach Bill Belichick whether Watson and Newton run in similar situations.
“Well, I think both guys probably have a few plays that are designed runs, and then there are other plays that are improvised runs,” Belichick said. “I think when you’re talking about mobile quarterbacks, guys that are tough to handle, tackle, can throw, run, make good decisions – I mean, I would put Newton at the top of the list. Not saying that there aren’t a lot of other good players that do that, but I would say, of all the guys we play or have played recently in the last couple of years, I would definitely put him – he’s the hardest guy to deal with. He makes good decisions, he can run, he’s strong, he’s hard to tackle. He can do a lot of different things, beat you in a lot of different ways. We saw that in the game down there in ’13, so I would put him at the top of the list. Not saying the other guys aren’t a problem, because they are, but he’s public enemy No. 1.”
In 2013, Newton’s third year in the league, Newton completed 19 of 28 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns, good for a passer rating of 125.4. He added 62 yards rushing in a 24-20 Carolina win.
That’s the only time Belichick has faced Newton. Since then, he’s had ankle surgery and shoulder surgery, and the Panthers seem to be trying to get him to run less often than he once did. Regardless, the Patriots will need to do a better job of bottling him up than they typically do with mobile quarterbacks.