TEMPE, Ariz. — As Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick combined to gash the Arizona Cardinals for 151 rushing yards over the last two weeks, they were actually doing their opponents a favor.
As the Cardinals head into their Wild Card round matchup with Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, they have a pretty good idea of what they need to work on in order to stop a mobile quarterback.
“Yeah, definitely,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said when asked if seeing mobile QBs the last couple games gives the team an opportunity to see what needs to be corrected. “There are so many carryover things from the last two weeks going into this week, than if you played him for the first time and haven’t played those other teams.
“It’s an advantage for us, schematically, because we’ve seen some things work, not work, and look at how they run their offense with the quarterback. It gives you an advantage, yeah.”
Arians said Newton, who ran for 539 yards and five touchdowns in 14 games this season, is a combination of Wilson and Kaepernick, a runner who can also throw well from the pocket. He also pointed to Newton’s ability to run between the tackles as something that separates him from the other two.
At 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, Newton is quite a specimen at the quarterback position and can do some things other passers cannot.
“Unlike the other two, he can run you over,” Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said. “He’s a fullback, he’s a tight end, he’s a quarterback and he’s a tailback. He’s not just speed and run outside the pocket … that makes it even harder or tougher to tackle.”
Safety Tyrann Mathieu called Newton one of the most athletic QBs he’s ever faced.
“Doesn’t have the speed as Russell and Kaepernick, but he can make the same plays as those guys,” he said. “So we have to really be mindful of the things he can do to us to hurt us.”
Last season, in a Week 5 matchup between Arizona and Carolina at University of Phoenix Stadium, Newton was held to just 25 yards on four rushing attempts. He was also sacked seven times and picked off thrice as the Cardinals won 22-6.