Eagles-Bills, The Day After
Rex Ryan evoked the name of an Eagles legend when speaking about Fletcher Cox following the Eagles’ 23-20 win over his Bills Sunday.
“That 91 is a good player. I was laughing when I saw him being compared to Jerome Brown,” said Ryan, “but I’m not laughing now. The kid is a pretty good player.”
The kid is becoming a game-wrecker.
Celebrating his 25th birthday Sunday, Cox put forward one of the finest performances of his young career, racking up eight tackles — two for a loss — and a sack while helping to limit LeSean McCoy to just 11 yards on eight attempts in the second half.
McCoy’s totals took a big hit with six and change left in the game, when Cox broke into the backfield and corralled him for a 10-yard loss.
“It looked like a grizzly bear coming out of a trap out there, and he just mauled his ass,” said Lane Johnson.
“It was a big play,” added Cox. “It was a big play for our team to get that big tackle for a loss right there. That momentum switched and you can see everybody went crazy in the stands. We got a momentum swing.”
The Bills ended up having to punt on that series, and the Eagles took the lead for good on the ensuing drive courtesy of a 30-yard Caleb Sturgis field goal.
The victim on that play — besides McCoy, obviously — was Richie Incognito. The veteran guard had a miserable time trying to contain Cox.
“Fletcher Cox, he ate my lunch today,” Incognito said. “He really shows up on film and makes a lot of plays. I got to see it first-hand today. He got me early and often. I didn’t play nearly up to my level. I’m man enough to say I didn’t play well enough for this team to win.”
“I know the left guard couldn’t really move side to side,” said Jason Peters, who offered some words of advice to Cox pregame. “Hit him with a couple club moves, and he couldn’t recover.”
Was that a matchup the Eagles were eyeing going in?
“Fletcher on anybody is a matchup we like,” Billy Davis responded. “You could see Incognito was getting a little frustrated a couple times and there were penalties happening. We move him around a little anyway to see what he likes. And he doesn’t care. He says, ‘Put me on anybody. I’ll be fine, coach.'”
The Bills did not appear to throw much double-team help in Incognito’s direction, allowing Cox to feast.
“You saw the havoc it wreaked when he didn’t [have double team help],” said Johnson. “I think anytime you’re playing Fletcher Cox, you better have a good game plan. You can’t just have one guy block him.”
Teams will likely heed that advice more as Cox continues to build his resume and reputation.
He is now the team’s co-leader in sacks with 6.5 (a career high) and leads the Eagles in tackles for a loss (14.5) and hurries (24 coming into Sunday). Despite playing the usually low-profile role of a 3-4 defensive end, Cox is beginning to stand out more and more.
“It’s absolutely Pro Bowl level, I know that,” said Davis on the play of his defensive MVP. “I haven’t been around it in a while. But he’s dominating. It’s not just dominating a pass or a run like a lot of people do. He dominates both, so I hope he gets his recognition for it.”
“I would say so,” said Cox, asked if he is playing the best ball of his career. “Especially late in the season, a lot of people are going down and I just keep continuing to climb. I’m enjoying it.
“There’s a lot more to come. I just have to stay focused, man, and keep pushing myself.”
Ed Reynolds was late on the Sammy Watkins touchdown midway through the first quarter.
The second-year safety out of Stanford floated too far into center field on the 3rd-and-9 from midfield, leaving Byron Maxwell all alone with one of the better deep threats in the game. Maxwell got out of phase, Watkins hauled in the catch, and Reynolds came in on a bad angle and missed the tackle.
“I told those guys after the play that that one was on me, and that I’m going to make all the rest of them,” said Reynolds afterwards.
He got his shot in the game’s final moments when Tyrod Taylor went deep for Robert Woods down the right side. Vinny Curry applied the pressure, and Taylor sailed the throw. This time, Reynolds was tight to the sideline and in position to make a play.
“Catch the ball. He did it, so he gets a check,” joked Chip Kelly, when asked what Reynolds’ responsibility was on the play. “I mean he was a deep safety and they tried to go over the top and he has got to give the corner support on that and just made a great play.”
“Ed’s exciting to be around because it’s not too big for him,” added Davis. “He’s a very good student of the game, he studies it hard, he learned from that one [the earlier TD] and it’s good to see.”
Reynolds has been up-and-down since being inserted into the Chris Maragos role in sub-packages over the last couple weeks. This would qualify as his biggest “up” to date. It was his first career interception, and came against a quarterback that hadn’t thrown a pick since Week 4.
“It’s always about preparation throughout the week and making sure you put yourself in that position multiple times before you actually get there.,” said Reynolds. “It’s great being around these guys in our defensive backfield. We’ve got some older guys who have been there and done that and won Super Bowls. I just try to take from them all that I can and go out and make the plays that come my way.”
Eagles fans could call this game the “Fletcher Cox game”, but every game is that game. Pay that man his money.
— sunset shazz (@sunset_shazz) December 13, 2015
Brandon Graham agrees, Shazz. “We need him on this team and I’m hoping we can lock him up because I don’t want to see him go nowhere else,” he said.
Jeffrey Lurie‘s reaction after the ruling of a Sam Bradford interception was upheld. Also, his response when DeMarco Murray tried to approach him on the trip home Sunday.
— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) December 14, 2015
Think McCoy wanted this one?
But hey, life goes on.
QUOTES OF NOTE
“I mean the best thing I did was do his dance that he do in the end zone when they called that holding penalty at the end. We just had fun, man. I really enjoyed that game because I just love that we gave him a loss at his homecoming. It was short-lived for him.”
— Brandon Graham, on doing the “Shady Bounce” and handing his old teammate a loss.
“It hurt us a little bit, had a couple penalties. I just knew I had to go out there or it was going to be a rough time moving the ball…I just told them to hurry up and get the tape on, I gotta go back.”
— Jason Peters on leaving briefly with an ankle injury. Dennis Kelly was whistled for back-to-back holds in his absence.
“I don’t know, that ain’t exactly the ’85 Bears, but if you want to say it is, then go for it. It must have been them.”
— Rex Ryan, when asked if it was the penalties or the Eagles’ defense that stopped McCoy in the second half.
“I have the ball. I might give it to my mom for Christmas.”
— Nelson Agholor after scoring his first career touchdown.
“When I was manned up against [Sammy Watkins], I felt like I did a pretty decent job not letting him get over my head. I mean, he did catch a couple of comebacks, but that is not going to lose us the game. It did build my confidence going into next week.”
— Eric Rowe on his solid performance at corner.
“I’ve made plays for this team the past two years, but in the situation we were in with the playoffs on the line, I think it was the most important catch.”
— Zach Ertz, on the 41-yard catch and run being the biggest play of his pro career to date.
“Some of the leadership has started to develop. You are starting to hear some more of the players voices. It is becoming more of a player-driven team.”
— Malcolm Jenkins, when talking about the reasons why things have changed on defense the past few weeks.
A quiet day for Jordan Matthews, who had three catches for 19 yards (6.3 avg.) on five targets…Pretty even distribution of the running back snaps by Chip Kelly/Duce Staley…DeMarco Murray saw his play time go up from 14 snaps (23 percent) against the Patriots last week…As Josh pointed out, Dennis Kelly was whistled for holds on half of his snaps Sunday.
Connor Barwin was off the field for just four plays and Brandon Graham 11 plays. Billy Davis continues to limit the exposure of Marcus Smith, who saw four snaps…Vinny Curry‘s playtime dipped after seeing 55 snaps (62 percent) against New England…Dead split for Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso, while DeMeco Ryans saw a spike in play time — up from 21 snaps against the Pats. With run-stopping a big priority, Davis went to the veteran more this week.