Eagles Need Fletcher Cox to be Fletcher Cox
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - If you were to rank the Eagles players from one through 63, Fletcher Cox would top the list.
Typically, the 2018 All-Pro is in the conversation with players like Akiem Hicks, Grady Jarrett and Geno Atkins as to who the best defensive tackle in the world not named Aaron Donald is.
Cox hasn't been his typical self, however, during the Eagles disappointing 1-2 start.
In Sunday’s 27-24 loss to the Detroit Lions, much was made of the fact Carson Wentz had two more tackles that Cox despite the fact the latter played in 46 of the team's 64 defensive snaps. And forget about tackles Cox didn't do anything in the game, no sacks or QB hits. No pass breakups, not even an assist -- nothing.
The first two games of the season -- vs. Washington and at Atlanta -- weren't much better, three tackles and a PBU and two quarterback hits but no real splash plays. Compare that to last season when Cox was at three sacks, three tackles for loss and eight QB hits at the same juncture.
The difficult start can be traced back to a foot/toe injury suffered in the divisional-round playoff loss to New Orleans back in January which required surgery. Cox didn't do much of anything in the spring and summer other than rehab and only got back on the practice field a week before the season opener.
Despite the slow start and the fact that the Eagles pass rush has been virtually non-existent through three games with one of two sacks coming from the defensive line, Doug Pederson insists he's not worried about his best player.
“I think Fletcher, he's coming and I'm not concerned with him at all,” the coach insisted.
Pederson compared Cox to his linemate Brandon Graham from last season when Graham was the one who barely had an offseason to prep after coming off surgery.
"I think you have to look back too at BG a year ago," Pederson assessed. "... it took him a couple weeks to kind of get his legs. ... I'm excited actually of where he's at health-wise and how he's practicing and things like that. He's obviously a top defender, top player for us, and I think his best ball's ahead of him."
It better be because the impotent Eagles pass rush isn't going to improve until Cox begins to play like his normal self, a development that would ease the burden of players like Graham, Derek Barnett, Hassan Ridgeway and Vinny Curry.
“We’re not getting to the quarterback - especially me," Cox admitted after Sunday's loss to the Lions night. "I’m not getting there quick enough. We have to do a better job as a group, as a defensive line, and as a defense.”
Cox, though, said he is not disappointed just yet.
"I can’t be disappointed in myself, because at the end of the day, I’m out there giving everything that I have," Cox explained. "I’m just doing my job and doing what the coaches have asked me to do. Sometimes a player can try to do so much and he can end up making a mistake or you feel the pressure and end up doing way too much. I just try to do my job and be as disruptive as I can be. At the end of the day, I have to get to the quarterback, and I’m not doing a good job there right now.”
And that needs to change in Green Bay.
"It’s only as tough as we make it. We’re 1-2, and it’s only as tough as we make it at this point," Cox said "We have a quick turnaround, so we can’t walk around all week feeling sorry for ourselves, because Green Bay is not going to feel sorry for us. We have to go out there and we’ve got to win on the road."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen