Packers XLV

Chasing Cam: Can Pack Handle Superman?

Posted October 17th, 2014 @ 01:10pm

The best thing that happened to the Pack last Sunday was Aaron Rodgers' virtuoso performance in the final drive against the Dolphins. The second best thing that happened was Cam Newton's 17 carries for 107 yards performance against the Bengals.

Why? Prior to that ground burst, Newton had carried just 14 times in four games for a total of 32 yards. That shows that Newton is finally healthy and able to become the dual threat QB he's always been. Why is that good news for the Pack? Well, it's not, really. But at least the team won't be surprised by it and got to spend the week watching tape and preparing for the dangerous read option--the Achilles heel for Dom Capers, Clay Matthews and company.

Newton presents the largest obstacle in the Pack's attempt at its fourth straight win. With rookie and budding star WR Kelvin Benjamin not yet cleared to play with a concussion, Cam has few legit targets to throw to. Former Bear nemesis Greg Olsen is having a solid season again at tight end; the team will need to account for him. But other than that, the passing game is pretty average.

The Panthers get running back Jonathan Stewart back from an injury on Sunday, something they desperately need, with fellow tailback DeAngelo Williams still out. But even with Stewart, Cam will be by far the most dangerous ground weapon the Panthers employ. They put up 37 in Cincinnati last week against a good defense, with Newton leading the way. He did most of his damage with his legs in the fourth quarter, rushing 11 times for 70 yards, when the Bengals D was clearly running out of gas.

But thePanthers also gave up 37 last week, mainly because their defense is a shell of its former self. It starts with the loss of Greg Hardy, whom they finally suspended after the team was feeling pressure to act. Without him, their pass rush has gone into deep freeze and it has magnified the unit's shortcomings, predominantly in the secondary.

They have three new starters on the back end and they're not very good. Corners Melvin White and Antoine Cason are giving up passer ratings of 126.1 and 113.1 respectively. The pass defense ranks 20th in the league overall and the team has given up at least 30 points in each of its last four games. They're also miserable on third downs, ranking 31st in the league allowing 50% conversions. And they average giving up one play of 50+ yards in every game.

Which means it should be a good day for Aaron Rodgers and company. The emergence of Davante Adams (six catches for 77 yards plus the alert fake spike reception) comes just in time for a unit that was becoming a bit too Jordy-centric. Even Andrew Quarless is showing that he might be ready to step up to a larger role, if the line can protect well enough to allow him to run some patterns.

Mike McCarthy rotated Lacy and Starks equally last week, due in large part to the hot, humid conditions. But it wouldn't be a surprise if that trend continues this week. Keeping both of them healthy and humming for the back half of the schedule is vital.

The Pack should be able to put 30 on the board against Luke Kuechly and his pals. The question will be how does the Pack handle Cam and his legs? What have they learned from their previous failures against talented running quarterbacks? Newton is likely the final dual threat QB they will face in the regular season. But should they make the playoffs, they'll likely need to show their chops against the read option if they find themselves matched up against Russell or Colin.

Looks like the Pack will be without both starting corners this week, though Tramon Williams may have a shot to play. It would be great to have them both back for next Sunday's prime timer in New Orleans, though with the bye looming the team may err on the side of caution. For this game, with the Panthers' dearth of receiver star power, the team should be just fine with Davon House and Casy Hayward doing the heavy lifting. The Pack's supreme depth at corner pays off in spades.

The Pack is back home, on a roll, and up to the Cam challenge (though he'll be productive, as usual).

Packers 31  Panthers 24

Tune in to "Packer Preview" Sunday morning at 7am on KFAN and kfan.com for much more on this game. Or, sleep in and catch the podcast on iTunes while you enjoy your Sunday morning cup of coffee.

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Comments (9):

PERCY HARVIN ALERT!!! The Seahawks have traded him to the Jets for a conditional 2015 draft pick. I don't know what to think about that one...

on October 17th, 2014 at 05:48pm

If the Packers can keep Newton in the pocket and make him commit to throwing, the Pack should be in good shape. It could very well end up being a shootout; I'd be OK with that. GO PACK!

on October 17th, 2014 at 10:05am

Your on nose Head Cheese. We'll need to protect inside out. If Cam has a weekness, its his touch pass. If we can keep inside leverage and some one over the top of Olsen, we can handle their pass game. I lend toward forcing the hand off as well.

on October 17th, 2014 at 10:08am

Bill the VOR, I for one am GLAD the Seahawks traded Percy Harvin to the Jets since he did some damage against us in the first game of the season. Now we don't have to face him in the playoffs. I hope Shields and Williams get better soon and House and Hayward can hold down the fort until then. I really hope the Packers can stop Cam Newton and the Panthers offense. Dave, I think you have the right idea on the score if the Packers offense under Mr. Rodgers can score some points against the Panthers' defense. Go Pack!

on October 17th, 2014 at 11:28pm

I just got back from a few days in Milwaukee visiting some family. All the talk there for days was on this Aaron Rodgers stat. Never in Aaron's career has he led a Packer comeback in the second half when the team was down more than 9 points, He is 0 for 24 in those games. Four of them were in mop up roles to Favre. They were comparing this stat to Peyton who has over 26 comeback wins in his career when trailing by more than 9 points in the second half. That's a big stat!! Lets not get behind by more than 9 against the Panthers in the 2nd half. PS to the Voice: I brought back 2 cases of New Glarus when I was in Wisconsin. GO PACK GO !!

on October 18th, 2014 at 05:33pm

A clue as to what to expect tomorrow might be in that game in the second week of the 2011 season at Carolina. Then the defending Super Bowl Champion Packers took on the then rookie qb Cam Newton, the top pick of the year's draft, and had all they could handle as he passed for 432 yds. in just his second pro start. Fortunately Aaron Rodgers, in hisleague MVP season, threw for 308 and rallied the Pack from a 13-0 deficit to win 30-23. A key in that game was the Packers' defense picking off Newton 3 times - two by Charles Woodson, who also recovered a fumble. After the game Rodgers said it was a good thing the Packers played Newton early, before he had more experience. Well, that more experienced Newton is coming to Green Bay Sunday and looks to have recovered his old self. Cam showed what he can do in that road tie with Cincinnati last week; passing for 284 and rushing for 107 against a defense signally better than the Packers. The Panthers were only a missed fourth qtr. field goal from winning that game. Carolina is the defending champion and currently leader of the NFC South so they must be respected. Injuries, free agency losses and disciplinary suspensions have taken a toll but they are still playoff contending. I expect Newton to play in this one about the same as he did against Cincy. But if the Packers can pick him 2 or 3 times they will win for sure. The Panthers defense is weak against both the run and pass so the Packers should bring a balanced attack, which will help the D. Carolina has been routed this season by Baltimore and Pittsburgh and did give up a lot to Cincinnati so this could be a decisive Green Bay if the offense is "on" this day. But I think Newton will make enough plays against our D to keep the game competitive into the final quarter and something akin to that 2011 game is what we should expect.

on October 18th, 2014 at 07:32am

New role? Julius spy on Cam

on October 18th, 2014 at 08:00am

The key to this game has been mentioned by almost everyone. Keep Newton contained, get a couple of turnovers, and give the ball to A-Rod. Go PACK!

on October 19th, 2014 at 09:00am

I heard that same comment OSSG. what a joke, Maybe 12 is good enough where he doesn't put his team behind by 9 or more points very often, Has anyone taken the time to see how many times that has happened?NO one thinks of that do they? what a bunch of crap. he just came back from the jets game , behind 21-3 in 2nd qtr. they always want to find something wrong with him, I"LL TAKE HIM. how many times has he drove them down for ago ahead score, but the D doesn't do there job and games over. All the rubes forget that stuff.If Cam runs for less then then 60 yds, we win 34-24

on October 19th, 2014 at 09:48am

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