The Browns defense is preparing to defend Myles Garrett this week.
That’s not a typo. Coach Gregg Williams on Wednesday used Garrett to illustrate the challenge his defense will face in trying to stop Cam Newton and the Panthers.
“There’s your quarterback right there,” Williams said in a defensive meeting this week, pointing to Garret. “Myles Garrett, that’s the kind of framework that you guys are looking at here.”
It’s a bit of a stretch, but Newton is the closest thing among NFL quarterbacks. Newton is listed at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, a few summers of bulking up to Garrett’s 6-foot-4, 272-pound frame. But the point is that Newton is an athletic aberration. Even with a starting-caliber mobile quarterback running the scout team in Tyrod Taylor, it’s impossible to mimic Newton’s skillset in practice.
In theory, the Browns' last opponent should help them to face Newton. Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson shares common traits with Newton: They both have strong arms and are difficult to contain in the pocket. But no quarterback can prepare the Browns for Newton’s unique combination of size and skill.
Watson is no Myles Garrett.
“Nobody like Cam Newton I think has ever played in the NFL at that position as long as the NFL has been around,” linebacker Joe Schobert said. “You really have to contain him and make him be more a pocket passer and not allow him to use his athletic traits to beat you.”
Newton’s frame is just the prelude to his physical gifts. He runs like a tight end and has one of the strongest arms in the league. Even if the Browns force him to sit still, defensive backs can’t leave a sliver of open space for Newton to target.
That being said, Newton’s coming off a four-interception game. He’s been limited in Panthers’ practices with a shoulder injury, an injury that bothered him enough against Tampa Bay that the Panthers inserted Taylor Heinicke to throw a Hail Mary on the team’s final possession.
Williams won't be fooled by one bad performance, though. Newton’s game tape still shows plenty of life in that right shoulder.
“Every once in a while when I think maybe his shoulder is sore,” Williams said, “I see him just absolutely throw it lights out right down the middle of the field tick it in some tight windows the way he has always been able to.”