The Cam Newton debate is going to roll on until we hit the draft. A QB coming from a spread system that needs time to develop at the next level. You can see that from the game tape, the workout in Indy at the NFL combine and the pro day down at Auburn.
However, the unique talent that Newton has is a bonus—an added value. And I think there is a way to get this rookie on the field in 2011 in a creative role.
Two videos to look at today. The first, Newton’s TD run vs. LSU. The second, Eagles’ QB Michael Vick down in the red zone vs. the Giants from last season. Two very similar schemes that we will see on Sundays. Let’s start with Newton’s 49-yard TD run during SEC play.
We can call this a “read option,” but at the NFL level this plays out as the Power O scheme (backside Guard pull, RB kickout) with the option back working off of the mesh point and leading up through the hole. Where else do you see this in the NFL? Previously down in Miami with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams running the wildcat offense, along with Tim Tebow in Denver.
Go back to Tebow’s first rushing TD as a pro vs. the Jets. Creative use of personnel and alignment from Josh McDaniels and the Broncos, but the same Power O scheme once the ball is snapped. Looks and feels exotic from a perspective of a defensive player once you come out of the huddle, but it still plays out as one of the top off-tackle run plays in the NFL.
Now let’s take it a step further and use Vick as an example. Reid likes to get the Eagles’ QB in situations where he becomes a matchup issue. Think of 3rd and short, the red zone, etc. Take a look at Vick’s TD run vs. New York—because the scheme is almost identical.
Philadelphia has their Posse (311) personnel on the field with the WRs aligned in reduced splits (close to the formation). What you initially see is a QB draw. But when you look closer, we are looking at the same scheme we talked about with both Newton and Tebow.
With the RB offset to the closed (strong) side of the formation, Vick can take that jab step to allow the backside guard to pull, and what we have is the Power O scheme from a wildcat alignment.
How does it translate for Newton in the NFL?
From my perspective, this is a way to get the former Auburn QB on the field in crucial situations as a rookie. Yes, the spread system that he ran in college isn’t going to translate to an NFL playbook, but certain aspects are making their way onto the field come Sundays. Newton’s development as a QB in a pro system will take time, but there is an opportunity to see an immediate impact from the rookie because of the value he brings to an offesne. 6-5, 248 and a sub 4.6 40-yard dash with an athletic skill set. If Newton is on my roster, I find a way to get him on the field.
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