The Jets have their toughest game of the final quarter of the season coming up this Sunday, when they take on the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers enter the game with a 9-4 record, and as our good buddy Craig Hoffman wrote in his excellent post yesterday, some think that the Jets have no chance in this one. But Craig is right, no game is impossible to win.
Not in the NFL.
A big key to winning the day will be keeping Cam Newton under control. He makes the offense go, not the running game, not Steve Smith. Cam Newton. He is that dual threat, that can beat you with his arm, and beat you with his legs. He, when on his game, is a rare breed that can beat you as a pocket passer, and as a scrambling QB.
So what do the Jets do? Well, according to the numbers, looking at our familiar friends at Pro Football Focus, there is one way to get it done. How?
BLITZ, BLITZ, AND BLITZ SOME MORE
We have talked about this several zillion times, but it’s appropriate to repeat her. Get the quarterback off of his spot, and he will not perform as well. It is true for all of them. Even the sainted Tom Brady has it rough when you get in his face. The same is true for Cam Newton.
Let’s look at last week against the Saints. With Rob Ryan at the helm of the defense, it’s no surprise that we saw a healthy amount of blitzing during the game, and it worked. Newton dropped back ten times when being blitzed, completed three out of seven passes, which translated into a passer rating of 52.7. His passes averaged less than four yards per pass, illustrating how it completely kept him from throwing the ball down the field.
We see the same thing when we look at the prior week, the Panthers’ last win, 27-6 over Tampa Bay. In that game, he dropped back 14 times under pressure, completing 7 out of 13 passes, with one interception, to a passer rating of 55.6. Tampa lost by not doing it enough, as Cam was able to pass to a rating of over 151 when he was not being pressured.
If you are going to do it, you have to do it all the way.
Can the Jets beat this guy? Sure. It’s not going to be easy. They are going to have to blitz. They must blitz a lot, and get to Cam. Get him on the ground so he can’t beat them with his legs.
It will be a long day if they don’t.