The Vikings know what Cam Newton is capable of. They also know what he’s susceptible to.
So as they plan for Sunday’s game against the former MVP, they’re going to rely on a simple, yet elegant plan.
The last two times they’ve seen the Panthers’ quarterback, it’s been a valid plan. In beating the Panthers twice, the Vikings have sacked him 12 times and picked him off four times. If they can continue to do that, they take another step toward home field advantage in the NFC playoffs.
Toward that end, they want to discourage Newton from asserting himself as a runner. That’s been more of a part of the Panthers attack lately, and the Vikings are aware of that.
“You’ve got to hit him like he’s a running back,” Griffen said of Newton when he’s out of the pocket. “Don’t hit him like he’s a quarterback because he’s not protected then. No cheap shots, you just hit him like he’s a running back. You just hit him.”
Of course, the Vikings are qualified to do just that. They’re second in the league in total defense, and keeping plenty of quarterbacks in check. And they know it works, based on recent experience.