Cam Newton still smiles when asked about the first win of his NFL career against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Newton is proud of how he and his teammates were able to overcome four inches of rain in the second quarter and a wet, muddy field to achieve a 16-10 victory.
However, the Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback isn’t focused on last week’s victory. Instead, he is focused on winning consecutive games for the first time in his NFL career when he steps on Soldier Field 1 p.m. Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
“Very talented defense, very talented defense, everybody knows their reputation as far as being a defensively sound team,” Newton said. “Rushing the passer, and getting a good rush on the passer without even blitzing. They don’t have just solid defensive linemen, but (those) guys are also game changers. (Brian) Urlacher and that whole linebacker core are extremely good at what they do and the defense as a whole. Those guys capitalize on every single mistake, and they really don’t make a lot of mistakes. And it shows on film.”
The Panthers (1-2) are looking to avoid going two games under .500, and the Bears (1-2) are in the same situation. Newton said there is a lot of prestigious history at Soldier Field, and he said he can’t wait to get the opportunity to play in Chicago.
Newton said Panthers coach Ron Rivera refers back to his playing days of 1985 when the Bears won the Super Bowl. He said Rivera would like the Panthers to have some of that team’s characteristics, which includes leadership and accountability.
“And it showed on game day as far as trusting that this particular person is going to be here,” Newton said about the 1985 Bears. “Whether offensively or defensively, I know I can blitz on defense and he is going to be right there. I don’t have to question. I don’t have to go outside of my means. I know when I do what is asked of me. This guy is going to do what is asked of him.”
He said the Panthers had a chance to win their two loses. That shows how valuable each possession is, Newton said.
Newton understands to defeat Chicago that he needs to repeat his performance against the Jags, where Newton didn’t have a turnover and made plays at critical moments of the game. He knows that Carolina can’t have self-inflected wounds such as penalties and missed assignment. Bad plays stop drives and can take a team out of field-goal range, Newton added.
He notes that scoring touchdowns as opposed to making field goals changes the aspect of the game.
Moreover, he said he will be “very aware” of where former Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers will line up. He described Peppers as being a “big human being” and scaring people. However, he said he has faith in his offensive linemen and that they can protect him. And Newton said it would be good to get a win for Rivera, a former Bear player and coach.
“He wants this win just like every week he wants to win,” Newton said about Rivera. “It is very personal for him. He is going to have a lot of emotion come Sunday. We expect that (from) a guy who played for an organization, a guy who coached for an organization. He is not going to be cold hearted and say, ‘This is just another game,’ which it is not. And we feel that passion that he has, and we want to go out there and play hard.”
Unlike Rivera, Peppers said the game against Carolina is just another game. He said he remains close with Jon Beason, Steve Smith and Charles Johnson. He said he still considers Beason, Johnson and Smith great former teammates.
And he praised Newton’s athletic ability and poise.
“He competes,” Peppers said. “He doesn’t really like to let plays die. He fights for extra yards and tries to make plays. That is the thing that jumps out. He doesn’t really give up on plays, and he keeps his composure in the pocket pretty well.”
Newton has also caught the attention of Bears coach Lovie Smith.
“There are a lot of good quarterbacks in the league that can throw the ball well,” Smith said. “But when you have a guy that big. And the mobility he brings to the position and not necessarily being mobile to run but being mobile to get in better position to throw the football ball. And he is a hard guy to bring down. He has a strong arm. There is a reason why he led his team to a national championship last year, and there is a reason he is the first pick in the draft. And you see all those reasons he is gaining (momentum).”
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