Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is 6-5 and 245 pounds and he uses his long frame to get away from defenders in the pocket, so when he runs the ball, it takes numerous people to bring him down.
Todd Bowles said Newton is bigger than some outside linebackers and defensive ends. “He’s a load,” he said.
On the season, Newton is second on the team in rushing yards with 436 but leads the team with four rushing touchdowns.
“He’s one of the bigger quarterbacks, if not the biggest quarterback in the league,” linebacker Demario Davis said. “You can’t arm tackle him. You got to make sure you bring your helmet.”
Despite his ability to be elusive, Newton has been sacked 23 times this season, tied for the 12th-most in the NFL.
ZONE READ, QB OPTION
The Jets face a Panthers team that utilizes the zone read and quarterback option with Cam Newton. It’s something the Jets’ defense doesn’t see on a regular basis. In practices, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg simulated Newton to get the Jets ready.
“We don’t see a lot of it in the NFL in general,” defensive end Leonard Williams said. “We haven’t seen it all year, it’s definitely a challenge and we’re preparing well for it.”
One of the issues with taking on Newton is defensive ends and outside linebackers need to ‘set the edge’, a coach term for staying home in case the running back goes off tackle during an option play. On zone reads, Newton can keep the ball and go up the middle or drop back and pass. Plenty of discipline is needed from the inside linebackers to make sure they don’t get caught moving toward the pocket when Newton does fake handoffs.
“(Just) not letting him put the team on his back and let him make all those plays that he makes,” defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson said. “Whether it’s getting out of the pocket scrambling, its Cam being Cam. Just make sure we keep him in the pocket and make sure he doesn’t have explosive plays.”
OLSEN’S POSSIBLE RETURN
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen could see a significant role in Sunday’s game. Olsen suffered a broken foot in Week 2 and hasn’t been seen since. The Wayne, N.J. native has played against the Jets twice in his 11-year career. Olsen has six catches for 93 yards with no touchdowns against the Jets.
“A phenomenal tight end for a long time,” linebacker Demario Davis said. “A smart guy, very crafty, knows how to get open. He’s always in a place where the quarterback can get him the ball easily.”
Olsen ranks eighth all-time among tight ends in receiving yards (7,393) and sixth in receptions (625).
PENALTIES HAVE HURT JETS, BUT NOT PANTHERS
Penalties might play a major role in Sunday’s game between the Jets and Panthers. The Panthers are the least penalized team in the NFL with 45 total and the Jets — led by Buster Skrine’s 11 — are tied with the fourth-most at 81. The Panthers also have the fewest penalties called per game at 4.5. The Jets are tied for the third most penalties in the league at 8.10. Penalty issues for the Jets were never a problem in Todd Bowles’ first two seasons. The Jets were the fourth least penalized team in 2015 and 2016 with 228. The Panthers incidentally were flagged 225 times during those same years, which is the third fewest in the league.
21: Punts inside the 20 by the Jets’ Lachlan Edwards, the fourth most in the NFL this season. Edwards is also 8th in the league this season with a net average of 42.2.
3: Was the fewest third-down conversations made by the Jets offense this season in the Nov. 12 loss at Tampa Bay. The Jets previous low was four, set four times. The Jets had converted a total of 11 third down plays in games against Atlanta and Buffalo before facing the Buccaneers.
19: Number of possessions Inside the 20 by the Jets’ offense, fewest in the NFL. The Jets, however do convert, at least 57.9 percent of the time, good for 10th in the league.
3-3: The Jets’ record against the Panthers. MetLife Stadium will be the fourth different venue for this short rivalry, with previous games played at Giants Stadium, Charlotte’s Bank of America (formerly Ericsson Stadium) and Clemson’s Memorial Stadium.