Eagles Wake-Up Call: Checking In On Fletcher Cox

Fletcher Cox has learned quickly to get used to change.

He’s played 15 games as a pro and is already on his third defensive line coach, third defensive coordinator and second head coach.

Cox is surrounded by several new teammates as well.

“It’s different,” he said during last week’s mini-camp. “The first day I came back, no Cullen [Jenkins], no Darryl Tapp, no Mike P. [Patterson], none of those guys. So it felt kind of weird, but you’ve got to understand this is a business and things happen.”

2012 was a year full of disappointments for the Eagles, but Cox was not one of them. He looked very much worthy of being a first-round pick, notching seven tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and 24 hurries. If Cox is able to build on that foundation, the future is bright, and it will involve trips to the Pro Bowl.

“I think I played pretty good,” he said. “I know I’ve got a long way to go to be a great player in this league. Just going back, looking at the guys that are great in this league and going back and evaluating myself, I know I’ve got a long way to go.”

Cox was hesitant to provide any hints about the Eagles’ defensive scheme and his new role. Last year, he played defensive tackle almost exclusively and was tasked with aggressively trying to charge into the backfield on every snap. Now, he figures to make the transition to defensive end in a 3-4.

“Coaches got me doing so much, all guys doing so many different things,” Cox said. “We talked about nothing is written down right now.”

When the Eagles drafted Cox last year, they knew a move to a 3-4 might be coming. His versatility was part of what made Cox so attractive to Howie Roseman and Andy Reid.

We’re only in April, and the Eagles still have to fill out their roster in this week’s draft. If they move to more of a 4-3 under, Cox would likely play the 3-technique, and expectations will be for him to develop into a big-time pass rusher.

As for the change at the top, Cox said he’s upbeat about the start of the Chip Kelly era.

“It’s real different,” he said. “It reminds me of a year ago when I was in college, practice-wise, how fast everything goes, the tempo of practice. Just having fun out here and enjoying it.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

T-Mac takes a look at how things have changed from Mel Kiper Jr.’s first mock in January to now.

The latest draft buzz takes a look at Darrelle Revis, EJ Manuel and Matt Scott.

An Eagles-related look at Mike Mayock’s top-100 list.

Are the Falcons looking to trade up?

Manuel discusses his visit to Philly in his latest draft diary.

Casey Matthews talks about the similarities between what Kelly did at Oregon and what he’s doing in Philadelphia.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Andy Benoit of Football Outsiders takes a look at the state of the Eagles:

In Kelly’s system, the quarterback must be mobile. That’s non-negotiable, and it’s the reason why Foles will not win the starting job here. The question is whether Vick can handle the reins. He’s not as explosive as he once was, but he obviously remains one of the most mobile signal-callers in the game. Simply being able to run around is not enough, though. Kelly’s quarterback must make multiple reads on the move and disciplined decisions. Sound mechanics are usually needed to facilitate this. There’s no sense debating whether Vick can perform this role. His past three years as the starter in Philly, as well as his body of work before that, provide a clear answer: no –- not overall, anyway. Sometimes, Vick can thrive in Kelly’s system. More often than not, he’ll be erratic or injured.

Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com wonders whether the Eagles could take a look at LSU pass-rusher Barkevious Mingo:

Mingo can cover. He can rush the passer. I think he’s underrated as a run defender. Mingo needs to add some bulk and he must get stronger, but he’s not a finesse player. He will fire into blockers and fight to  hold his ground or to push them backward. He uses his hands well and isn’t strictly a “run-around” guy. Some speed rushers are allergic to contact. Not Mingo.

COMING UP

Three days away from the Eagles being on the clock. Plenty to get to.

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  • Richard Colton

    Cox will be a star at DE for a long time. The rest of the D-line is a mystery to me. I don’t see Sopa getting more than 40% of the snaps at NT, but I fully expect the birds to do something about NT in rounds 2-4 based on projections. The biggest ??? on the line is Curry. Can he play or can’t he?

    • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

      I think Curry will be OK, provided he is not required to 2 gap often.

    • Fink

      I hope we at least take a chance on Curry at 5-tec for a year and focus on NT early in the draft.

    • theycallmerob

      There seem to be some pretty good late rd NT prospects. Two I like are Geathers and Barnes (UGA and GT, respectively)

    • JofreyRice

      Brandon Williams has gotten a lot of buzz, though I can’t say I’ve seen too much of him, being that he’s a small school guy. Rounds 2-4 seems high with all the other needs, why didn’t they just sign a younger NT that had some value going forward? There were guys there, in their early 20s that could have been had.

      Some Eagles bloggers reported that Curry said they’re running a two-gap 3-4. I hate using Fletcher Cox in that manner. He’s got to be allowed to penetrate and get after the QB. Using him in a 2 gap 3-4 to set the edge and occupy blockers is a fantastic waste of his talents. He’d get a chance to get after the QB in passing situations, but I’m really hoping those early reports were just inaccurate. Reminds me of when they drafted Broderick Bunkley because of his passrushing skills at FSU and then transitioned to a 2 gap system after getting destroyed by Deuce McAllister & the Saints.

      I think it’s very likely Curry just winds up as another wasted high draft pick, a victim of the regime turnover. Maybe he can add some fresh legs in passrush packages, but it’s very hard to see him two-gapping at 285 pounds.

      • Richard Colton

        I just can’t get over the fact that even as a second round pick on a bad team, he couldn’t make the field. Is that telling or am I reading too much into Andy’s rearranging of deck chairs on the Titanic?

        • JofreyRice

          eh, I didn’t see much in terms of pass rush, but I think you have to give the guy a shot. I think he’s been dealt a pretty rough hand, no one was projecting him to 5 tech 2 gapping 3-4 End, coming out of Marshall. He really fit better as a 7 technique read and react one gap guy–Brasher’s system. Is he capable of making a Justin Smith type transformation in the pros? I dunno, asking a lot, IMO.

          I think it’s very possible that FF (Reid) forced Washburn to play Curry and the resulting insubordination was the final straw for Washburn’s tenure in Philly. If you look at the timeline, Curry saw his first regular season action in Week 12 against Carolina (!!!) on the 26th of November. He showed up OK, particularly against the run, and Babin was released 2 days later, on the 28th. Washburn was fired on the 3rd of December. I think they wanted to get him on the field, but had previously granted Washburn autonomy over his unit, so held off on forcing the issue. I think FF (Reid) stayed true to his management style, even though the ship was doomed, and saw the need to evaluate young players in a lost season, was tired of Washburn’s tomfoolery and decided to force the issue.

          • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

            Curry not getting on the field was absolutely absurd. Daryl Tapp should have been cut/benched early in the season, he was completely non-factor. Curry couldn’t have done any less.

            Curry looked great in the preseason last year. Yes I know it’s the preseason but it should have been enough of an indicator that he could survive in the NFL. He may have struggled but he needed those snaps.

          • JofreyRice

            Agreed. I’m not giving up hope on Curry, but I think it’s asking a lot to try to get him to become a 3-4 DE. I really hope that one Eagles blogger is wrong about them two gapping, I don’t see a spot for Curry in that kind of scheme.

  • southy

    I’m wondering what Andy Benoit knows about Kelly that we all don’t. If it were non-negotiable, we wouldn’t see Foles on this team post-draft.

    • Fink

      Exactly. Foles is much better than Vick at reading defense, making decisions on the move, getting the ball out quickly, and is definitely mechanically sound. He isn’t as mobile, but I’d much rather work around 1 weakness than many. Oh, he’s also much younger and doesn’t have a glass chest.

      • Joe Jones

        If Nick is talented enough in Chip’s estimation, he will be here…… and if he’s not here, its a reflection on his overall talent, not simply his lack of mobility. Sure, Kelly has historically preferred mobile QBs, however, he is not going to dismiss a talented QB simply cause he cant run.

        Good quarterbacks are always at a premium in the league. We shall see…..This weekend will offer additional clues as to the future of the position…..all we can do now is speculate. Cant wait for the draft….personally, I dont like any of the QBs in this draft, but I trust Chip’s judgment more than my limited opinion. GO BIRDS!!!

      • EaglesinTX

        Lol have you ever played football or are you parroting too? Nick Foles isn’t mechanically sound. His feet are uncoordinated at times and it affects his accuracy, especially intermediate to long throws. His release isn’t fast, he just has a solid arm so it compensates sometimes, but you can definitely key him…that’s why so many times you saw defenders breaking on his passes. Decision-making is ehhhh too. Vick is by no means the long-term solution, but let’s please stop acting like Foles is more than a serviceable backup.

        • cliff henny

          foles is good, some nice raw materials. but about month ago went back and watch his games. personally, realized that alot of my hype for foles was anti-vick. like foles, think kelly can win with him, but am not as high on foles today as i was in december.

          • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

            There aren’t many if any former NFL Players or personnel people who are serving as analysis now for publicans or a media outlet who agree with you. By a large measure only people in or near Phila on blogs and forums think Foles is a legitimate NFL starter.

            Foles is characterized as a serviceable back up and a slow footed spot starter in the NFL who has horrible footwork, no accuracy and a gun slinger mentality prone to throw into coverage and eyeball his receiver while only following progressions over half the field.

            Nobody in the league sees Foles as a solution to a team in need of a franchise quarterback

        • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

          If you’re not at the games it is difficult and next to impossible to watch the defensive backs keying on Foles eyes. He watches his receivers and, in doing so telegraphs his intentions. Thus he becomes an easy victim and rite to be intercepted. He can’t or doesn’t yet anticipate separation of his receivers from their defenders and release the ball.

          Some of the bad habits he came in the league with were heightened because of the shabby play of the offensive line in 2012. He’s a sitting duck in that pocket being immobile. He can’t take the sold shots we are accustomed to seeing delivered on Eagles Quarterbacks in the pocket. It wasn’t long before he was sent to the mash unit. The more he’s thrown into the mix the more that scenario will duplicate itself. He can get better over time, but still there’s nothing in his play that is convincing with regard to him being a long term solution in the league.

          • Geagle

            stop it!!! Even the best QB’s breakdown Mechanically under crazy amounts of pass rush pressure….Who the hell gives up on fixable Mechanics after a rookie year? Let me let you in on a little secret…If you are just going to pull the plug on rookie QB’s after 6 games…you wont EVER find a franchise guy!……..
            I dont kinow what Foles will be, backup, franchise guy, probowler….and anyone who claims to know is a fool. The Kid works hard, he will bust his ass this summer, tweak Mechanics…The game will slow down for him, since he was given very valuavble playing time as a rookie…Some offseason work, the game slowing down for him, a better Oline…once he trusts his Line, you will start seeing him throw with the proper Mechanics on every play…..You Have to actually see a kid sorrounded with a cast that he can atleast have a chance to succeed with before you can even think of trying to judge what he is….Had Foles NOT payed as a rookie, I would say there is NO WAY you can trade Foles next offseason…but because he got 6 games as a rookie, I think you can actually judge him after this season(if he plays)…
            ..You have to see young kids play, and you cant discard them after 6 games…You need to be able to see how much does he improve from one year to the next….In what world do you live in that young players, who live for the game, work at it…dont get better? lol. You cant sit here and tell me wtf Nick Foles is, because you have no clue how much he will improve from last year to this year….and if you actually think, he isnt going to improve at alll….than I probably have no business debating with you…
            The misguided Era of instant gratification has never been stronger in Philly….sounds like a damn good way to make mistakes!
            Its completely insane to me to hear anyone try and act like they know what Foles is, after 6 games in the most dysfunctional situation imaginable..If every day, I didnt have to hear sooo many people say dumb stuff regarding Foles, I would never even talk about him….If it were up to me, we would treat him like a plant, give him his nutrients every day, and leave him alone….and in a year or two, after we see what kind of Flower he blooms, than we can start trying to figure out who he is, and what we should do with him…because a few QB’s had some rookie success, now everyone lost thier damn mind!…,
            I have NO belief in Foles..I have NO clue who he is, or what he will become…and thats ok… If I had to describe what I actually think about Foles to someone, I would say….shows some promise, but yet to be determined…
            Apparently, The Eagles wouldnt consider trading Foles to KC, so that they could see him in a Vanilla 3day mini camp, and then trade him during the draft? hahahahaha Makes a ton of sense, let me tell you….NO TEAM would have given us more than what KC would have…yet this ridiculous Foles trade talks continue…God I hate sharing this team with half of our fans lol…I dont know wtf I am looking to more, seeing what players we draft, or just seeing this darn draft end, so I Philly can stop pissing in my ear and telling me that its raining! Telling me Foles is going to be traded on DRaft day, is like telling me that the sky is yellow, while Im sitting under a blue sky…..The hilarious part, is we actually consider ourselves a good fan base! lol

        • Geagle

          anyone who has played Football, understands the Human element to it, how much young guys improve for one year to the next…I have a hard time believing with your Medden, fantasy football outlook that you actually played the game….NO ONE who has PLAYED the game, would judge a rookie after 6 games…

          • EaglesinTX

            We’re talking about playing at the highest level here, Geagle. And we’re aren’t talking about just rookie mistakes or hiccups. Everyone is allowed those. Anybody that has played the game knows that’s going to happen when adjusting to a new environment. We’re talking about fundamentals and facts here. His mechanics are not good. His footwork is not good. Staring down his targets and decisionmaking, by all means, are more likely to be better after he adjusts to the game. But do you really think he neglected to try and work or had coaching on his mechanics/fundamentals over the entire season? Say what you want, but more times than not, those things don’t just clear up even when worked on (see: Tebow, Pryor, Brady Quinn, Leftwich, David Carr)

          • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

            They’ve not gotten any better for Kevin Kolb. When a kid steps behind center in the NFL for the first time he either has it or he doesn’t. If he’s competitive he will do what’s necessary to find success. Often, as in the case of Ponder with the Vikings; a coach has to slow him down and call the proper plays so that the kid settles down and finds some sense of comfort.

      • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

        What games were you watching where Foles demonstrated a Quick Release and quick feet? His scouting report from college questions his decision making and his mechanics. Last year in the NFL his mechanics got no better and he developed no speed. Sure he could move up in the pocket or around due to pressure, but that served his accuracy no purpose and he can’t hit the long ball, which negates the advantage the Eagles No.1 receiver provides this offense.

    • theycallmerob

      Typical lazy reporting, parroting what others have said. Stick to this site for accurate news.

    • JofreyRice

      I think he’s probably making an informed projection based on Kelly’s history, the free agency moves, and reports from early installs. Seems completely logical to me. Why do you think that Kelly is going to do something drastically different than what he’s been successful with at every other level? What hints have you seen so far? Retaining Vick? Signing Dixon? Installing the read-option on Day 1?

      It’s still very possible that Foles is traded, IMO. I have maintained all along that I just don’t see a place for him on this team. Kelly’s adapted to non-mobile guys when he’s HAD to, just as Reid ran the ball when he HAD to. I believe that coaches have a philosophy of the way they want to attack, and tendencies grow out of that philosophy.

  • cliff henny

    ‘Non-negotiable”…no wonder coaches hate pressers, do any reporters ever listen? learned one thing about kelly, everything is negotiable, though he has preferences (and dont we all). kelly says ‘versatility’ about twice a minute, and somehow this reporter walked away with rigid.

    • Richard Colton

      In order to run a Chip Kelly NFL offense (which no one has ever seen) you need a mobile QB. It’s NON-NEGOTIABLE!

    • Geagle

      Yeah, its soooo friggin ridiculous! apparently People actually believe that we wouldnt trade Foles to KC at the owners meeting, so that we could see him in a 3day mini camp, and then trade him??? hahahahaha makes so much sense, let me tell you lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/todd.orange.1 Todd Orange

    I know it is a moot point to try and put the defense together before the draft but as it stands right now I thought it would be fun to try and narrow it down. NT (1 tech): Sopoaga; DT (3 tech): Cox; DE (5 tech): Dixon/Curry; DE/OLD (Predator): Cole/Graham; OLB: Barwin; MLB: Ryans; WLB: Kendricks; FS: Philips; SS: May the best man win; CB: C. Williams; CB: B. Fletcher

    • cliff henny

      better than last yrs defense, least that’s a plus. not like any of us think we’ll have to win many 17-14 games…heck, that might be mid 2nd quarter scores

      • http://www.facebook.com/todd.orange.1 Todd Orange

        True statement

    • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

      Interesting. You’ve seemed to have written off Cedric Thornton. This kid has demonstrated his commitment to hard work. He elevated his play to go from the practice squad to being a solid contributor in the rotation playing beside Cox.

      • http://www.facebook.com/todd.orange.1 Todd Orange

        Dutch, this is just the first snap prediction, Thorton will definately rotate in. More than likely come September one or more of these names won’t even be on the roster and we will likely have a rookie or two penciled in somewhere. I wanted to post to start conversation. I like Thorton and he will mix it up somewhere along the line.

    • Richard Colton

      I think for Cole you mean OLD/DE, not DE/OLD

      • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

        Cole is the better run defender any version of a 3-4 is pretty much dedicated to contain the run. When you take out all the terminology it’s simply a 5 man front to support 7 in the box.

        • Richard Colton

          truth be told, I like Cole a lot. He and Peters are my two favorite Eagles. Neither is OLD (like, for the Earth) but neither one is young enough to be considered a foundation for a rebuilding team. That doesn’t mean I want to Blade Runner the team and cut everyone over 30. I just wouldn’t consider drafting either’s replacement at #4 this year to be a waste (Fisher/Jordan).

          • http://www.facebook.com/todd.orange.1 Todd Orange

            I would agree with you totally Richard. But understand that if Jordan is aquired Cole will be traded or released for sure.

          • Geagle

            whats the over/under on Eagles traded during the draft?… I guess I will set the Line at 1.5….Im taking OVERS!!!…this will be your last week as an Eagle Mr. Avant…thanks for the memories,.good luck with the Patriots lol..

          • cliff henny

            might be over before day 1 is out. if you’re counting player for picks too, not just picks for picks, has to be 3.5 maybe 4.5. i just cant see howie sitting on his hands, especially on day 3 when he’ll take 5th and 6th rounders for vet players in positions that we drafted in rounds 1-3. ie, take your boy gavon is taken, celek is gone.

          • Geagle

            No, Im only counting Current Eagles players that will be traded for a pick…Heck, I would love to trade Celek and draft BOTH Gavin and Kelce(but thats a pipe dream)… I think guys to keep an eye out for on the block: Maclin, Graham, Cole, Avant, celek and Vick……i think Avant is Def gone!

          • cliff henny

            my list is slightly longer, ask for shady or cox, i hang-up before you finish, everyone else, i’ll listen to offer. not sure anyone outside your list has much value though

          • Richard Colton

            I’m probably adding Boykin and Kendricks to your list of “will not trade.” Anyone else? sure. I’ll take the call.

          • http://www.facebook.com/todd.orange.1 Todd Orange

            On the most recent article I just posted my mock draft through round five and that includes two trades. Check it out

          • Richard Colton

            I can live with that. Like I said, I like the guy, but he isn’t in their long term plans.

          • Wilbert M.

            Cole won’t be released because of the cap hit.

          • JofreyRice

            agreed. Compared to the amount of time it took for cyanobacteria to create an oxygen rich enviornment, we should expect high-level LT play from Peters for at least another 2-3 million years.

      • http://www.facebook.com/todd.orange.1 Todd Orange

        Obvious typo DE/OLB my mistake

        • Richard Colton

          there are no coincidences

  • PaoliBulldog

    Benoit is spot-on about Vick. He has never been an accurate passer and he’s never been quick at reads. And it’s not for lack of effort. As Dennis Green said….

  • Geagle

    Cox will be the BEST DT Philly has seen since Jerome…take that to the bank!

    • cliff henny

      think he already is. who’s the competition, C Simon, Patterson, Bunkley?

      • Geagle

        He isnt better than Simon just yet(atleast simon early in his career), but he will dwarf Simon soon, this year, or next year at the latest…what a homerun that was….so dissapointed in Bunk…Had High hopes for him

  • Johnny_P

    Fletcher Cox will be a multiple pro bowler for years to come and will look ever better if Eagles grab Star with the #4 pick. It would be ridiculous with the two of them lining up at DT with Sopoaga plugging the middle. I’m trying to harness my expectations after my 8-8 prediction for last years team was way off. Last season was what you would call a fans nightmare.