Tom Brady tortured the AFC East for the better part of two decades. But at least his opponents knew what to expect.
Now, teams like the Dolphins must prepare for a whole different animal in Patriots quarterback Cam Newton, who will make his New England debut Sunday against Miami at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots have deliberately kept their offensive plans under wraps, as their unpredictability with Newton at QB should be one of their strongest assets this season.
So, how are the Dolphins preparing to defend a quarterback who's played just two games since the end of the 2018 season? By assuming the 31-year-old still boasts a unique combination of size and speed.
“You want to contain him and keep him in the pocket," Dolphins head coach Brian Flores told reporters Wednesday in a video conference. "You want to be aggressive. It’s going to be a great challenge for us. It’s going to be a huge challenge."
Flores emphasized his defense must follow "mobile quarterback rules" by staying in their rushing lanes and committing to their individual assignments.
"Read your keys. Play with good fundamentals and technique. Follow your roles," Flores added. "With a guy like (Newton), he's extremely talented and can extend plays and make every throw."
Newton indeed is one of the most prolific rushing quarterbacks ever: He has more career rushing touchdowns (58) than any QB in NFL history, while his 4,806 rushing yards rank third all-time behind Michael Vick and Randall Cunningham.
It's unclear whether Newton will be at full speed after undergoing offseason foot surgery, but the Dolphins are preparing for the Pro Bowl version of the veteran QB.
Ironically, former Patriots linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts could play key roles in containing Newton on Sunday as we get our first glimpse of "Superman" outside Carolina.