If the Miami Dolphins (5-5) have any chance in beating the streaking Panthers (7-3), they must contain Carolina’s athletic, dynamic quarterback Cam Newton.
After analyzing Newton’s performance against the New England Patriots (7-3) on Monday night, he does a lot of good things in the pocket, but he does a lot of great things out of the pocket. It’s hard to contain a quarterback with that type of diverse talent, but the Dolphins can find a way.
Miami should have one focus in their defensive game plan, maintaining Newton inside the pocket. There is only one way the Dolphins should want to lose, and that’s having Newton throw the ball.
In Monday’s game, the Patriots kept the blitz package frequently. The complication with that strategy is the 6-foot-5, 250-pound passer is difficult to drag on to his knees. One play that makes this point is the incredible in-and-out, spin-o-rama 30-yard run in the third quarter. He emerged out of the pocket unscathed and made numerous defensive linemen miss embarrassingly.
His ability to anticipate where the defender is navigating towards and avoiding big hits is a large part of his repertoire and success. Newton was sacked three times in the game, but ran for 62 yards.
Miami’s defensive assignments should be focused on the run game. If the Dolphins played smart, they would assess the two defensive tackles blitz and then the two ends just stay ready for when Newton decides to run or if the sack is there with support for backup. They should not be afraid to blitz here and there, but they shouldn’t do it often.
If the Dolphins can successfully stop Newton from swarming out of the pocket and give him the option to the throw the ball while Ryan Tannehill and company contribute significant points on offense, Miami will move to 6-5. But Newton’s mobility and Carolina’s defense is no joke and the focal points to their recent success.