That mismatch has created headaches for every defense that Newton has faced. In just four games, he is responsible for 1,513 yards. Against the Bears, he was not hurried or sacked. Peppers, who is fifth in the league for all-time sacks among active players, could not get a hand on him. Even when Peppers or Israel Idonije closed in on Newton, he easily scrambled to keep the play alive. He hasn't been sacked in the past two games.
That ability to keep plays alive is something that Sean Payton has noticed. His Saints will face Newton on Sunday, and Payton told the "Dan Patrick Show" that he is more concerned when Newton improvises.
"He's elusive. He's got a big arm. You see him doing things that he's comfortable doing. It's the things that are unscripted that trouble you most," Payton said.
That big arm came in handy for more than passing on Sunday. First, he used it to get the Panthers on the 1-yard line with a 53-yard pass. Then, he scored a touchdown by rolling to the right and stretching out to make sure that his arm crossed the plane of the end zone. Any other quarterback in the league would not have the reach to make that TD happen.
Just four games into his pro career, Newton is the kind of player that demands attention. He makes rookie mistakes, like the pick-six he gave up to Chicago, but he has all the tools to become an unforgettable QB.
- Julius Peppers
- Sean Payton