TEMPE, Ariz. — To say the Arizona Cardinals have struggled against mobile quarterbacks would be an understatement.
Russell Wilson accounted for 427 yards of offense, while Colin Kaepernick totaled 267 in helping lead Seattle and San Francisco, respectively, to wins over the Cardinals in the final two weeks of the regular season.
Even worse, the Cardinals (11-5) now to get face Cam Newton, who may not be as fleet-footed as the aforementioned QBs, but is bigger and stronger and just as elusive.
Might the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Newton expect similar success as Wilson and Kaepernick when he and the Carolina Panthers (7-8-1) host the Cardinals in an NFC Wild Card game Saturday?
“Well, there are obviously some things we’re looking at in those games,” he said during a conference call with Arizona reporters this week, “but nothing too much because we run completely different styles of offense. But, from watching game and game and game of film, hopefully we’ll get some type of keys or clues or try to home in come Saturday.”
Newton, 25, doesn’t run the ball as much as he used to. The former No. 1 overall pick rushed for 539 yards this season, which was the second-best mark on the team, but the lowest output of his career. He missed two games because of injuries, including Week 15 after he suffered two fractured bones in his lower back in a car accident.
“It wasn’t one of my best days, but the best thing that I got from it was that I was safe and nothing really permanent came from it,” Newton said of the Dec. 10 accident.
He later added, “I’m lucky to be alive. When you look at an event like that, of course, it scares you for the time being. But, good thing I was all right.”
In the two games since his return, Newton has run for 63 and 51 yards, respectively. And while Wilson gashed the Cardinals for runs of 55 and 22 yards and Kaepernick had runs of 30, 19 and 15 yards, Newton’s longest run from scrimmage this season is modest by comparison: 22 yards.
“I’m not really worried about what (the Cardinals) have planned (defensively),” he said. “I just have to be ready for what they have planned. That’s been my outlook for each and every week. I know they’re going to have some type of gidget or gadget that’s going in this week … but my thing has been just take what the defense gives me. If they give me the run, I’ll take the run. If they give me the pass, I’ll take the pass and do exactly what Coach (Ron Rivera) tells me to do.”
Newton struggled in his most recent appearance against the Cardinals, losing a 22-6 decision at University of Phoenix Stadium on Oct. 6 last season. Yes, he threw for 308 yards and had four carries for 25 yards, but he also was intercepted three times, fumbled once and sacked seven times — which, at the time, was the most by the Cardinals since 1987.
After watching film, Newton said he doesn’t see much difference in that Cardinals defense and the 2014 version.
“I see a lot of guys flying around, a lot of playmakers and a lot of talent on the field,” he said. “They may have the best secondary we may face all year. It’s one of the top secondaries in the league. It’s a credit to great coaching and great talent and those guys believing in the system. But it’s going to come down to which team executes the best and has the most fun.”