Eagles Wake-Up Call: Fletcher Cox’s Versatility
Before the season even started, Chip Kelly made a bold statement about Fletcher Cox.
“Fletch can play any position on the defensive line in any system in the National Football League,” he said.
Playing as a 4-3 defensive end is very different than life as a 3-4 nose tackle, but on the surface, the statement makes sense. It’s just a head coach going a bit overboard in praising his second-team All-Pro defensive end.
However, as Cox has dominated through seven games this season, he continues to prove Kelly’s words aren’t actually far-fetched.
“Because of his intelligence and because of the guy he is and how dedicated he is to learning the scheme, we move Fletcher around a lot,” Bill Davis said. “You just can’t say, ‘There he is, here is how we’re going to double-team him.’ He’s out wide as an edge rusher; he’s in guard as the three-technique rusher; he’s on the nose; we’ve stacked him in linebacker looks and brought him.”
That was evident in Week 5 against the Saints, as Cox played perhaps the best game of his career. He recorded six tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles, and displayed his versatility when sacking Drew Brees. On the first one, he lined up over the left tackle (above) and on the second (below), he covered the center.
“The fact that we can move him around is due to his intelligence and understanding of football,” Davis said. “And then his skill set and how we can manipulate matchups and kind of keep the other team from saying, ‘There he is, here is how we are double-teaming him.’ That combination is working well for us so far.”
Davis has done a nice job of keeping Cox away from double-teams, which helped the defensive lineman on his final sack against New Orleans when he also recovered the fumble he forced.
On this play (above), the Saints should’ve been able to cleanly protect Brees as they had five offensive linemen responsible for three defensive linemen. However, the offensive line either miscommunicated or Davis’ alignment simply worked, because both Cox and Bennie Logan were blocked one-on-one.
Cox and Logan quickly disrupted the play, pressuring the quarterback despite the Saints’ numbers advantage. Neither New Orleans’ center nor their right guard (both circled above) blocked anyone, which let the defensive line run loose.
In addition to rushing the passer, Cox has proven his versatility in stopping the run too. Fran Duffy made a good vine of one example.
“He’s a multi‑position player along the defensive front.” Kelly said. “But that’s what he was like when we got here. He’s a very talented player.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Open thread: Stay up to date with all of the latest news as the trade deadline looms.
Checking in on the Birds’ offseason departures, including Nick Foles rolling with a strong run game.
“Well, someone’s gotta win this mess.” T-Mac examines the decrepit NFC East, and where the Eagles stand.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Dave Zangaro has 10 keys for the rest of the Eagles’ season, including fixing the increasingly dire situation on offense.
The offense has looked out of sorts through the first seven games. A lot of that falls on [Sam] Bradford and his inability to get on the same page as his receivers. Several times this season we’ve seen a receiver be somewhere different than where Bradford expected them. The relationship between quarterback and receiver takes time to grow, but things should be better than this after the seventh game of the season.
Aside from the QB-WR relationship, the rest of the offense needs to have better communication. There have been way too many line-of-scrimmage penalties. Those are the type of penalties teams can’t afford to have because they’re so avoidable.
The Eagles still control their own destiny in the NFC East, writes Bob Brookover.
The message should have been loud and clear: If you want to win the 10th NFC East title in franchise history, it is there for the taking. The 4-4 New York Giants play pass defense like they are a Big 12 team and the 2-5 Dallas Cowboys have provided weekly confirmations that quarterback is the most important position on the field ever since Tony Romo went down in Week 2 at Lincoln Financial Field. You can consider the 3-4 Washington Redskins contenders, but it’s not advisable.
The Eagles return to practice and start preparing for the Cowboys. Chip Kelly will address the media at 11:35.