Eagles strategy for stopping Cam Newton: ‘Hit him’

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox sacked Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton last year, and Cox knows that rattling the quarterback is the key to victory.
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

By Zach Kruse

Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Fletcher Cox knows exactly what his defense needs to do to combat quarterback Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in Week 7.

The Eagles are planning on landing as many body blows as possible on the 6’5″, 245-pound quarterback.

“Get him uncomfortable,” Cox said, via Ed Kracz of the Burlington County Times. “Hit him, hit him, hit him, hit him, hit him, even when they run the ball, hit him. I think that will shake him up a bit, make him frustrated and that’s when all quarterbacks start doing crazy things.”

A year ago, the Eagles sacked Newton nine times in a 45-21 win over the Panthers in Philadelphia.

It might be a little more difficult to get shots in on Newton this time around. A battered quarterback fighting all kinds of injuries last season, Newton is now healthy for this meeting with the Eagles.

“Anytime I watch film from last year, it feels great now,” Newton said, via David Newton of ESPN. “It puts a smile on my face knowing I’m very healthy and capable of doing more.”

Even Eagles coach Chip Kelly called him a “different Cam.”

Newton threw three interceptions and rushed just two times for six yards in the loss in Philadelphia last season. The defeat dropped the Panthers to 3-6-1, but Carolina eventually rebounded to win its final four games and make the postseason as a 7-8-1 division winner.

The Panthers are 5-0 to start 2015, including last Sunday’s come-from-behind win over the Seattle Seahawks. A big reason why is the health and maturation of Newton.

He has accounted for over 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Panthers offense through five games. His passing numbers aren’t otherworldly—Newton is completing 55.4 percent of his passes, with a passer rating of 83.2—but he’s also making due without top receiver Kelvin Benjamin.

The Eagles appear confident in their ability to handle a healthy Newton.

“We’ll have a game plan for him,” defensive lineman Cedric Thornton said. “We’re not intimidated by Cam Newton. He’s a great player, but we played him before. I know we’ll be ready.”

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