Fletcher Cox leads Ea­gles ‘D’ by ex­am­ple

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Bob Grotz bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @BobGrotz on Twit­ter

Ask Cox about miss­ing a prac­tice or be­ing late to a meet­ing and the man be­hind the stats shows up. Cox re­turned to Philly Satur­day, two days be­fore the bye ended, to be sure he was on time.

PHILADEL­PHIA » Be­tween the lines, on the prac­tice field or rushed by re­porters in the locker room, Fletcher Cox en­joys play­ing de­fense.

Ask the NFC de­fen­sive player of the month for Septem­ber what he thinks about the honor and you get a cri­tique of Ea­gles team­mate Bran­don Graham, who also has three sacks and is play­ing off-the-charts ball.

“Some peo­ple don’t get the recog­ni­tion that they de­serve,” Cox said. “I think Bran­don has played re­ally, re­ally good. No­body is re­ally talk­ing about him.”

Ask Cox if de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Jim Schwartz might be ex­cited about play­ing the Detroit Lions, with whom he has a his­tory, and you get dropped for an­other loss.

“He’s ex­cited ev­ery week,” Cox said. “Jim is go­ing to be Jim. He al­ready knows this game is im­por­tant to us. And the rea­son I say that is be­cause it’s the next game on the sched­ule.”

If you want to reach Cox, don’t ask him about the record six-year, $103 mil­lion con­tract he signed. And don’t won­der out loud if the Ea­gles have the pieces to be the best de­fense in the league or if he watched Big Ben, whom he sacked twice, rain five touch­down passes on the Kansas City Chiefs Sun­day.

Ask Cox about miss­ing a prac­tice or be­ing late to a meet­ing and the man be­hind the stats shows up. The one who re­turned to Philly Satur­day, two days be­fore the bye pe­riod ended, to be sure he’d be on time for prac­tice. Cox leads by ex­am­ple.

“You def­i­nitely don’t want to be late for a meet­ing in our room,” Cox said. “Ev­ery­body is al­ways on time. We even get on the coach. If the coach walks in a minute late, we’re like ‘Hey, coach, the meet­ing started at 11:45.’ It’s that thing where I think Doug’s just let­ting ev­ery­body show their per­son­al­ity.”

Doug is Ea­gles head coach Doug Ped­er­son, who won Cox over when he said the de­fender was missed but not re­quired to be around for the vol­un­tary prac­tices in the off­sea­son. Cox was in con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions.

When Ped­er­son men­tioned that Cox would be at train­ing camp whether or not a con­tract was done, Cox backed him up ver­bally.

It seems any­thing but a co­in­ci­dence that Cox is beat­ing up op­po­nents and the Ea­gles have al­lowed a league-low 27 points, the de­fense just 20, as the other 7 came on a punt re­turn. Cox prefers work to words, and win­ning above ev­ery­thing.

“The award was great,” Cox fi­nally said. “Win­ning was even bet­ter. Be­ing 3-0 is great, too. We just want to take it week in and week out and ev­ery­body live in the mo­ment.”

The Ea­gles are fa­vored by three points over the Lions (1-3), who have lost three straight games and don’t seem con­vinced that head coach Jim Cald­well — who took over when Schwartz was fired — is the one who will move them for­ward. Cald­well re­port­edly had a long meet­ing re­cently with man­age­ment. The Ea­gles could ex­pe­dite mat­ters.

The way the Ea­gles are play­ing, it’s go­ing to be dif­fi­cult for Stafford to do much against the co­or­di­na­tor who knew him so well. No one knows Stafford like Schwartz and Ea­gles vet­eran line­backer Stephen Tul­loch, a team­mate of the quar­ter­back as re­cently as last sea­son.

Tul­loch thinks this Philly de­fense with Cox, among others, ranks up there with the top-notch units he played for un­der Schwartz in Detroit and in Ten­nessee.

“This is a real good group of guys with Fletcher and Graham and Con­nor (Bar­win),” Tul­loch said. “It’s un­be­liev­able. Go­ing back to my Ten­nessee days and Detroit days we had Al­bert Haynesworth and Kyle Van­den Bosch and Jevon Kearse, early in my ca­reer. This is a younger group of guys who have the same at­ti­tude, the same wantto. I’m telling you, man, this Dline is for real.”

MICHAEL PEREZ — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ea­gles de­fen­sive end Fletcher Cox, com­ing in for a land­ing last De­cem­ber onto for­mer team­mate LeSean McCoy of the Buf­falo Bills, has shown that he’s not one to talk about in­di­vid­ual ac­co­lades.

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