Cam Newton’s 2017 season has been filled with peaks and valleys.
In back-to-back wins over the Patriots and Lions, he combined to throw for 671 yards, six touchdowns and completed 77 percent of his passes. Newton followed up those performances with two losses in a row in which he threw just one touchdown and five interceptions.
The bad Newton has shown up against Mike Zimmer’s teams in the past. Last year, he tossed three picks against the Vikings and registered a 47.6 quarterback rating. In 2014, Zimmer’s group held him to a 65.7 rating in a 31-13 win.
The Vikings’ head coach said he isn’t making much of pass successes against the Panthers’ franchise quarterback.
“I’ve got good players, they played those games well, each game is different though,” Zimmer said Wednesday. “Every time you play somebody it’s a different deal. He’s a very, very talented athlete. They’re doing a few different things with him now. He’s got a very strong arm, competitive. They’re good on third downs. They use him a lot in the running game. It makes it difficult.”
Newton’s overall passing numbers are not among the league’s top QBs this year – though he’s added 515 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. But Zimmer said the Vikings are preparing for the 2015 MVP version, who totaled 45 touchdowns.
“I think throughout the season everybody has their ups and downs a little bit, I see the things that he does really good and that’s what we try to defend,” Zimmer said. “He throws the ball great down the field, he moves in the pocket well, he runs good, on the move he throws well…I know the guy that went to the Super Bowl a couple years ago.”
In the Vikings’ two wins over Newton, they’ve sacked him a total of eight times, including eight last year.
“With each quarterback you pick your spots and try to get them off rhythm,” Zimmer said. “I don’t know there’s any guy that I’d say you wouldn’t try to get him off rhythm early. Heck, he’s a great player. Best player in the league two years ago.”