Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Jets Focusing on Slowing Newton Down

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Jets Focusing on Slowing Newton Down

Article excerpt

There isn't a lot of mystery to the Jets' defensive game plan this week. And there shouldn't be.

If they want to beat the Carolina Panthers, it will start with slowing down Cam Newton. So what's the key to keeping one of the most dynamic weapons in the NFL in check?

"Not letting him put the cape on his back and let him make all those plays that he normally makes," Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson said. "Whether it be getting out of the pocket and scrambling or just Cam being Cam. We've just got to make sure that we keep him in the pocket and keep him from making those explosive plays."

The Jets' defense has emerged as the unquestioned strength of this team in recent weeks. But now, they're about the face the ultimate test. Newton can beat them with his arm, which is strong and accurate. But he can also beat them with his legs.

"I think he has a unique skillset," Jets linebacker Demario Davis said. "Size, speed, arm. A phenomenal talent at that position, so it's going to be a challenge for us."

The Jets have some recent experience slowing down a mobile quarterback: they held Tyrod Taylor and the Bills' offense in check on Nov. 2. But Jets coach Todd Bowles said that performance won't help the Jets at all against Newton.

"Completely different players," Bowles said. "Cam has the whole gamut and Cam has designed runs for him. Tyrod didn't have designed runs as much as Cam does. He can beat you in the pocket, out of the pocket and running the football. I think they're different players."

Newton is the league's leading rushing quarterback, averaging 43.6 yards per game. And over the last three games, he's been better than most running backs. He's averaging 75 yards rushing over the last three contests, adding five touchdowns. He's also become much harder to sack. Opponents have only sacked Newton once in the last three games, after sacking him 22 times in the six games before that.

It's no accident that Newton is the best running quarterback in the league. The Panthers make a concerted effort to get the ball into his hands as a runner, with designed quarterback runs and options. The option, in particular, is a focus for the Jets because it's so infrequently seen in the NFL. …

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