The Eagles star may have been quiet in the first four weeks, but Fletcher Cox had an impact against the New York Jets that won’t show up in the box score. The reason Cox has been so quiet is because he had to go through foot surgery this offseason, so he missed all of training camp and preseason. He says he feels healthy now, which is great because I sure do miss that big grin of his and his funny dance moves.
Sunday against the Jets may have been our first proof that he's feeling better. Though it may not seem like he had an impact on the Jets game, he really did. He was not a part of the sack parade, but many players, including Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat, credited their sacks to the pressure Cox brought. Equally as important, the pressure he brought against the Jets directly led to a Rodney McLeod interception. This defense is heating up so do not, I repeat do not, count this big guy out. He is extremely dangerous and nobody is safe as long as Fletcher Cox is on the field. The Eagles defense has really struggled to start the season between injuries on the defensive lines and in the secondary. They have had to change up the strategy with the defense and now it's starting to work.
Last year the Eagles could rush with just the defensive line which helped the secondary out tremendously. This year the secondary needs help but so does the defensive line. As a result, Jim Schwartz has opted to utilize more blitz package. Last year Cox cooked up 10.5 sacks with no blitz packages and just the defensive line attacking. No other team in the NFL had a defensive line like the Eagles. The hope is we get back to that scary defensive line this season. It's good to see players like Brandon Graham stepping up and recording a career-high three sacks in a game. Seeing Josh Sweat and Hassan Ridgeway get involved was fantastic as well. There is a lot of great potential with this line and players like Sweat and Ridgeway need to step up to offset the disappointing losses of Malik Jackson and Tim Jernigan. Even with the Eagles defense struggling, they have managed to keep every team they faced this season under one hundred rushing yards. This Sunday they go up against the Minnesota Vikings. Let us just take a moment to bring up the playoff game when Eagles won 38-7, good memories. The Vikings have definitely changed since then. They overpaid on a struggling Kirk Cousins. He, however, is not my main concern. That honor is reserved for running back Dalvin Cook, who has over 100 yards in every game but one this season. This is where the Eagles need Fletcher Cox the most. Hopefully, the rest of the defense still shows up. They have been on fire. Cox making this his stand out game would really make a difference between whether they win or lose. A player that Cox really reminds me of is the great Reggie White who spent most of his career with the Eagles. He was a player that could single-handedly make a difference in a game. Reggie also had a huge grin on his face all the time. He made it into the hall of fame with the class of 2006. Both Reggie and Fletcher know how to destroy the offensive line. They never give up on a play. Imagine a three hundred pound player (who are both around six foot five) running at you with a speed you never thought a big guy would have. I know all the quarterbacks that had to go up against either White or Cox had nightmares the night before game day. The minister of defense Reggie White passed away on December 26, 2004, at the age of forty-three but, I would like to think if he saw Cox play he would be proud to see someone play with such passion and heart as himself. So let's give Cox a loud standing ovation in Sunday's game when he runs out on the field and give him the credit he is owed. One day he will make it into the hall of fame himself, I just know it.
Fletcher Cox's numbers through the first five games of the season might not be what we have come to expect from him, but football is a team game and he is making things easier for his teammates. The big fella is certainly having an impact. I, for one, am happy to have the big guy on our side.