Fletcher Cox leads Eagles ‘D’ by example
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.”
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.