According to an article by @Gregg Rosenthal of nfl.com, Seattle Safety Earl Thomas said this about Cam:
“we know he is a great dual threat quarterback, but once we bottle it up and frustrate him, we know he is going to tank a little bit.”
The entire article can be read here.
The Seahawks strategy looked to be press coverage on the receivers, keeping Cam in the pocket and to hit the quarterback as often as possible. This game plan would frustrate Cam and prevent him from getting into any sort of rhythm offensively. This strategy proved very effective as Cam had the worst statistical outing of his short career.
The frustration was not limited to Cam Newton. Wide receiver Steve Smith was a victim of the dominant Seattle defense as well. Smith’s frustration was seen on multiple plays as Smith would get into WWF style wrestling matches with the Seahawk corners. The stat line for Smith: 4 receptions 40 yards. These numbers generally reflect one quarter of play by Smith but such ineffectual play is a direct result of the outstanding play of the Seattle corners.
Big, tall, aggressive, physical, and exceptionally talented; the Seahawks corners played up close and personal versus Smith and the rest of the Carolina receivers. This completely threw off the timing of routes and disrupted any fluidity or momentum the offense was struggling to find.
So, we have a frustrated quarterback and a group of frustrated wide receivers. With the effort Seattle was putting into shutting down our passing, the running game should be effective. Especially when you consider the level of talent in our offensive backfield. WRONG! The Seahawks were prepared for our read option running attack and shut that down as well. They did a great job of filling gaps and swarming to the ball. They did not miss many tackles and if they did, there were other Seattle defenders right there to finish off the ball carrier. For all our efforts offensively the Seahawks had an answer.
Well, that is almost completely true. There in the 3rd quarter when we finally were able to mount an offensive drive the target for Cam became #88 Greg Olsen. As I sat ,watching the game from the couch in my wife’s aunt’s living room ,I could not help but scream at the television”throw it to Olsen”. From what I could see he was the only option Cam had that was remotely open. For whatever reason during the majority of that game Cam refused to look his way.
As my shouting fell on the deaf ears of Head Coach Ron Rivera and Offensive Coordinator Rob Chudzinski, I could not help but wonder where the communication between Cam and the coaching staff was. Someone should have gotten Cam’s attention and made it clear to him that he needed to look for Olsen to be open. Coming into the game #88 was 1st on the team in receptions and 2nd in receiving yards. How could our offensive game plan not include Olsen being a major contributor?
This is where the frustration with the coaching staff comes comes into play. This frustration I speak of is felt by the fans. It seems illogical that none of the coaches would go to the quarterback and suggest looking to Olsen. I am sure that something was said to Cam when the game film was reviewed. Too late.