Other aspects of the Eagles’ defense have received more praise, such as the pass rush, the improved LB play and the cornerbacks. But a subtle and yet significant aspect of the team’s improvement on that side of the ball has had to do with the play of first-round DT Fletcher Cox.
Cox started off slowly in training camp and had to work his way into the rotation, but with starting DT Mike Patterson out following brain surgery, the Eagles needed the rookie to step up. He had a positive debut in Week One, coming off the bench to play 28 snaps (46 percent of the plays) and contribute with a nice sack for a seven-yard loss.
That earned him more playing time. In Week Two, he was out there for 50 of the Eagles’ 69 defensive plays (72 percent, the most of any Eagles defensive tackle) and contributed five tackles (one for loss) and a pass batted down. He also was in on nine special-teams plays.
The Eagles’ trust in Cox has grown as he has shown more maturity in his game. He has absorbed not only the Eagles’ rush-and-crush philosophy up front from noted DL coach Jim Washburn, but also has started to figure out opponents’ blocking schemes better, through more repetition and better film study.
It’s clear that the team has big plans for Cox and that his playing time is expected to remain quite ample, even if he doesn’t start.
- the Eagles