Dye-Gest: A Love For the Game

Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about former Auburn star Cam Newton's impact on NFL football.

The dominating win on Sunday by the Carolina Panthers was an excellent example of the value of a mobile quarterback when dealing with a strong defensive opponent.

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The top defenses in the National Football League are so good that it is difficult to score on them with a quarterback who can’t use his feet to buy extra time for his receivers to get open. Having a guy like Cam Newton who can move around, escape the pass rush and make a big play with his arm or feet is the major reason the Panthers are going to the Super Bowl.

At the college level having quarterbacks on the field who can beat opponents with their feet as well as their arms has caused many sleepless nights for defensive coordinators, a trend that I don’t see going away anytime soon.

What Carolina does offensively with Cam at quarterback reminds me of what many of the college coaches are doing. Teams that have quarterbacks who are a major threat to run the football force defenses to play man coverage in the secondary. That makes it easier for receivers to get open and when they do it gives the quarterback a good opportunity to complete his pass because defenses have to be concerned about the quarterback tucking the ball and running for a big gain.

I don’t see any reason why teams at the college or pro level won’t be hunting for athletic quarterbacks who can put extra pressure on defenses like Newton does. For playing in the NFL, I think it is essential to have a big and strong guy like Cam if you are going to play a mobile quarterback because that league is so physical it is difficult for smaller guys to stay healthy through the long season, no matter how athletic they are. A couple of prime examples of that are Robert Griffin III and Michael Vick, who have lots of talent but have had lots of injuries since becoming pros.

With the success Newton and the Panthers are having I think more pro teams will try do incorporate at least some of what they are doing. Scheme-wise that won’t be difficult to do, but finding the right guy to run the show on the field is the real trick. There aren’t any other guys out there who are six-foot-six and 250 pounds who can play quarterback like Newton, and not a lot of guys who are close to him when it comes to having the total package.

You never know how these things will play out, but in Cam I think we are watching a guy who has a chance to be the greatest quarterback in NFL history based on the early part of his career. I can’t remember anybody playing the game quite like he does with his combination of size, speed, arm strength, physical toughness, mental toughness and burning desire to be successful while at the same time having a real love for the game.

Watching Newton play in the NFC Championship Game it struck me that Cam was out there having fun before the game, during the game and after the game. I didn’t see that from any of the other quarterbacks I watched in the NFL games on Sunday. It is refreshing to me to see Cam playing that way and his passion for what he is doing seems to have enveloped his whole team. He can even get a smile on Coach Rivera’s face every now and then. Yes, there is serious money and plenty of pressure involved at the NFL level, but it is still a game and Cam treats it that way.

His success with the Panthers is a feel-good story. He has done a lot of impressive things behind scenes working with children in his community, something we know about at Auburn because he did the same things during his time here. We were lucky to have had Cam here for one year and we are fortunate that he calls Auburn home. Knowing what type of man he is that will never change.

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