Dan Quinn was the Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator when the Seahawks crushed Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos to win a Super Bowl. Quinn also directed that Seattle defense in a handling of Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, followed up this year by Quinn as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons becoming the only team to defeat Carolina this season.
All of which obviously means that, with a combined 6-1 record against Manning and Newton, he holds mastery over both quarterbacks in Super Bowl 50 and knows how to beat both. (He obviously didn’t say that, either)
The tack with Manning, despite the veteran’s legendary ability to read and exploit blitzes, is to attackattackattack. “Get him off his spot,” Quinn said. When Seattle destroyed Denver in the 2013 Super Bowl, Quinn dressed nine defensive linemen with the mission statement of sending them in waves after Manning rather than conservatively sit back and try to avoid being picked apart.
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The “formula” vs. Newton is a little different and more complex.
Quinn expects Carolina and offensive coordinator Mike Shula to call 5-6 designed quarterback runs. Quinn is endorsing nothing like former safety and now network analyst Rodney Harrison’s suggestion of trying to injure Newton (potentially and intentionally ending someone’s career is apparently a reasonable objective on the way to winning a game). But Quinn’s approach to stopping Newton does involve going low vs. high.
“This is not a guy [Newton] you want to tackle high,” Quinn said. “He’s got such strength that he can break tackles when he gets going. The tackling for Denver is going to be really critical.”
Defending Newton’s receivers has complexities as well. Man-to-man coverages can free up blitzers and other options, but man coverage means defensive backs’ eyes being first on the receiver and less on the quarterback.
“If you’re going to play man-to-man,” Quinn cautioned, “you better have someone who’s eyes are back toward the quarterback.”