METAIRIE, La. – The New Orleans Saints defense was borderline dominant in last week’s 28-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers. But they admittedly didn’t do a good enough job of containing quarterback Cam Newton when he took off running.
Newton had five runs of 8 yards or longer, including a touchdown – three of them on scrambles and two on designed runs.
Now the Saints are preparing to face a quarterback Sunday that they consider even more of a dangerous running threat in the San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick. Although Kaepernick has been sacked a stunning 14 times over the past two weeks, he’s still extremely elusive. He has run for 274 yards this year, and the Saints have warned that he can also use those legs to keep plays alive and throw down the field.
Here’s what the Saints have been saying this week about Kaepernick and being better against the next dual-threat quarterback:
S Kenny Vaccaro: “He’s a good quarterback, man. Very talented, very blessed. He’s got huge arm talent, can make plays with his feet. I think one of the best things he does, he gets them in good runs, he can make checks. I don’t think he gets enough credit for that. … And impressive ink – tattoos (something the two players share in common, which is one of the reasons Vaccaro often is confused for the lookalike quarterback).”
LB Curtis Lofton: “He’s one of the best quarterbacks in this league that can beat you with his arm or beat you with his legs. So we have to shut him down. [Kaepernick and Newton] are very similar. And when they get out of the pocket, usually bad things happen. So it’s just gonna be a collective effort from everybody to keep him in the pocket and not let him scramble.”
OLB Junior Galette: “I feel like [Newton] is a little bit different than Kaepernick. Cam wants to actually stay in the pocket more and be one of those traditional quarterbacks, as opposed to Kaepernick, if he doesn’t see his read, he’s taking off. …
“I know myself last year (against the 49ers), I’ve gotta do a better job of keeping him in the pocket. There were a lot of plays. He had one where he ran out the pocket and threw it to Frank Gore. Frank Gore was wide open because one of our linebackers left Frank Gore in coverage. He dropped the pass, but that could’ve been a heartbreaking play for us. And we know we’ve got to do a better job of just keeping him in the pocket and making him a quarterback that can beat us with his arm instead of beating us with his feet.”
Vaccaro: “I think they’re a little bit different. I think Cam’s one of the hardest quarterbacks to take down. I think Kaepernick runs a little bit better to me, as far as when he gets in the open field and gets that stride going. But, yeah, I see some similarities. … A couple times we had miscues on blitzes, didn’t have an edge. That one time [Newton] scrambled for a touchdown, that was all on us. He just took advantage of what we did wrong. [Kaepernick] can do that. So you’ve got to make sure you stay in your rush lanes. You’ve gotta always have two edges and just push the pocket up the middle.”
Coach Sean Payton: “The one thing you see on tape is he has real good arm strength. He can move. He can extend plays. We’ve seen that from him. He’s done a great job with that. … He’s done a great job of reducing turnovers again this year. They’re toward the top of the league. I think he poses a threat that is challenging, especially when we’re playing a team coming off a tough loss. We know the type of game we’re going to get. These guys are going to be ready to play.”