Eagles Wake-Up Call: Checking In On Fletcher Cox

Fletcher CoxWhen the Eagles drafted Fletcher Cox in 2012, then-defensive line coach Jim Washburn was ecstatic.

“When God made him, he made him to be in this system right here,” Washburn said at the time.

He was of course talking about the Wide-9. Cox’s job last year was to pin his ears back and get into the backfield on every snap. On a defense that was a disaster, Cox was one of the few bright spots, finishing the year with 5.5 sacks, 24 hurries and seven tackles-for-loss.

But with the offseason changes came a new defensive scheme that now calls for Eagles defensive linemen to two-gap (All-22 explanation here) and play with discipline, rather than just attack.

“I think I’ve been doing a good job at it,” Cox said. “A lot of room for improvement. Just a lot of little things that I’m not doing right. At the end, once I get rolling, I think it’ll all come together.”

When the Eagles drafted Cox, they liked his versatility and felt he could play in a variety of schemes. While he’s been relatively quiet through the first two games, it’s not as if he’s been invisible. According to stats kept by Eagles coaches, Cox leads the team with three hurries and is one of four defenders who’s notched a sack. He also has been in on 10 tackles.

Asked if the scheme limits his ability to make plays behind the line of scrimmage, Cox said: “There are no times where I feel like I can’t be in the backfield. I feel I can be in the backfield every play.

“That right there always comes down to want-to. You never let things like schemes and all that get to you. I mean, you’ve gotta have the want-to to go make the plays no matter what kind of position they put you in.”

When the Eagles are in their sub packages, Cox turns into an interior pass-rusher. Sometimes the Eagles go with three down linemen in those situations, and other times it’s four. Cox often lines up at right defensive end in base, but has been moved over to the left side as well.

The 23-year-old figures to be one of the players the Eagles build their defense around, and he sounds confident he’ll find his way as the season goes on.

But asked if he prefers playing in a one-gap scheme to a two-gap scheme, Cox said: “Of course. Everybody wants to be in the backfield.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

T-Mac takes a look at Earl Wolff, Nate Allen and the continuity question.

Chip Kelly explains what he tells Michael Vick through the headset during games.

The second part of our game review goes position-by-position on the Eagles’ defense.

The stars are aligning for DeSean Jackson, writes McManus.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com looks ahead to Thursday night’s Eagles-Chiefs matchup:

The Chiefs have a pair of good CBs in Brandon Flowers and Sean Smith. However, both players are at a matchup disadvantage against DeSean Jackson. Flowers has gotten every little bit out of his less than impressive measurables, but the bottom line is that he is simply not a fast player.

Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com weighs in on the Colin Kaepernick/Russell Wilson rumors:

The part about focusing on Russell Wilson in the 3rd round is utterly ridiculous to me. If the Eagles made draft plans around Wilson, they would have taken him with pick 59, which they got when they moved down from 51 in a deal with the Packers. You don’t build a draft plan around a 3rd round player. If you like someone that much, you take them in the 1st or 2nd round, especially as a QB. I have a hard time believing this report as stated.

COMING UP

We’ll look ahead to Eagles-Chiefs and break out the All-22.

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