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NFL coaches: Stopping Cam Newton has become unique challenge

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- One couldn't help but notice the 80-foot yacht docked outside the Boca Raton Resort and Club, where NFL owners on Wednesday wrapped up their annual spring meetings.

It was big. It was fast. It was powerful.

It stood out among all the other boats along this portion of the Florida Intracoastal Waterway.

Quarterback Cam Newton left a similar impression on league coaches during a 2015 season in which he led the Carolina Panthers to an NFL-best 15-1 regular-season record and a trip to Super Bowl 50.

The NFL MVP towered above most of his competition not only because of his unique size (6-foot-5, 260 pounds) for his position, but because of his unique ability to take over a game with his arm and legs.

Exactly what did Newton's MVP season mean for the league? That was the question posed to 10 coaches attending the league meetings.

Here's what they said:

Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks

"He's a throwback to the players that have been able to create a factor, a physical factor in the game, where they have a presence that kind of extends beyond maybe the plays that they make. Meaning that he is part of the awareness of offensive players, because they know he's out there and what he's capable of doing, the problems he's able to create, because he's just so physical.

"He plays in the mold of Ronnie Lott and those type of guys. Other players knew he was out there. So they're wondering when he's gonna knock their head in when they're ready to make a play on him. Cam has had that factor."

Chip Kelly, San Francisco 49ers

"Who are the next great quarterbacks coming up? It's the Russell Wilsons [Seattle] and the Cams. I see the league trending towards that. ... The one thing I don't think Cam gets enough credit for or Russell gets enough credit for is how well they throw the football.

"When you watch the ball come off Cam's hand, the ball come off Russell's hand, those guys are NFL-talent arms. ... Each of those guys could sit back in that pocket and just throw the ball 35 times a game and be really, really successful.

"There's not one coach in the league that wouldn't take [Newton] and say, 'I'll take him as my quarterback' and let him sit back and throw it 35 times."

Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons

"You have to treat him like a running back, not a running quarterback. By that, I mean you better have your tackling on point with him. And you just generally don't say that about the quarterback very often.

"It's his ability to create and run that makes a dynamic player turn into a great player."

Gary Kubiak, Denver Broncos

"He's obviously doing things not many guys can do with what he can do running the ball, how they can empty the backfield and still have a running game. There are not many teams that can do that."

Mike Mularkey, Tennessee Titans

"You always hear about the extra guy in the box. There can never be an extra guy [with Newton], because now the quarterback has taken the extra guy out of it. You can block everybody when you run the quarterback. There is never a time when they have one more guy than you have.

"So now the level of the playing surface is much more even. Things that they do, you have to account for one more guy that can do it with his feet."

Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings

"With the zone-read stuff that has come in, and the quarterback size that he is, and the athletic ability, that's changed [the game] quite a bit. I don't want to get into specific quarterbacks, but there were a lot of guys that were like that but didn't have the size, speed, the strength.

"And now he's become so much more of an accurate thrower. In the past, everybody was afraid these kind of guys would get hurt. Now they're thinking that he might hurt our guys."

Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers

"He's a significant player, not only for Carolina but for football. He's a very talented guy. ... Just by his ability, what he's capable of doing on the football field. His skill set is unique. It's a challenge. He presents a unique set of variables from a defensive perspective in trying to minimize his impact on the game. He's a significant, significant player."

Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers

"He's an explosive player. A very talented player that can do it all. I had a really great one at Carolina in Jake Delhomme. There's a drive, there's a passion, there's a way you play, there's a love for the game. That's the way Cam is. He truly loves to play the game and the players fed off that.

"When you start making those plays when the game is on the line. ... There was always a 'wow' factor with him, but when you make those big throws and you make the guys miss with the ad-lib ability, really, the more he plays, the better he's going to get."

Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals

"When Cam came out in 2011, he was such an impressive kid. We spent a lot of time with him because we had the fourth pick. Had Carolina passed on him, [it's] likely he would have been a Cincinnati Bengal.

"The physicality of his play and how he's gone about it, and the accuracy of how he threw the football last season was so impressive. ... My point is, I don't think they're producing Cam Newtons every day. He's a special person, a special player."

Gus Bradley, Jacksonville Jaguars

"His style is unique, different than anybody you face. And their style of offense is. There scheme sometimes slows down the pass rush and has made that part of their game effective. We talked about developing a play-pass in the run game. That's what Carolina has done a great job with."