While the Philadelphia secondary has longed for success, the Birds’ stout defensive line has propelled them to a formidable, and at times dominant, unit.
Cox and the Philadelphia defense have held their own in the trenches, producing a top-six rushing defense in the past three seasons. The Birds held the number-one spot in their 2017 Super Bowl season.
At 6’4″, 310lbs, Cox is the prototypical size for a defensive tackle in today’s NFL. His versatility is the most impressive aspect of his game. While Cox will always shine in the film room for his run-stuffing — sucking in double teams and causing havoc in between the gaps — he is a stellar pass rusher as well.
His numbers will never scream “stud”, but his impact on a defense is invaluable. As a quarterback does on offense, an elite pass-rusher or run stuffer can elevate the talent of those around him.
Over at Pro Football Focus, they do great, in-depth work that really highlights Fletcher Cox’s value beyond the numbers.
Headed into 2019, the men/women at PFF ranked Cox as the second-best interior defensive lineman.
“It’s a shame that Cox plays in the same league as Donald; he’d be the unanimous decision for top defensive interior if it weren’t for the Rams superstar. Cox’s pass-rush win rate in 2018 (20.9%) is the fourth-best single-season mark of any defensive interior in the PFF era. And his 91.2 pass-rush grade this past season, another career-high for the big man, also ranks inside the top 10 among qualifiers since 2006.”
Similar to Alshon Jeffrey and his numbers with Philly, a player garnering more attention is bound to show less statistical value.
To best understand, Eagles defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz, was asked about Cox’s value to their defense after their Week 15 win versus the Rams, played on December 16th, 2018.
“Even like a couple of the pressures that we got in that game when Nigel was completely free to the quarterback was all because of Fletch.”
“(The Rams) didn’t like the matchup of him one-on-one with a particular lineman and so they were sort of cheating and sliding the protection to him, and it opened up opportunities for guys like Nigel and Malcolm to be able to get through.”
Okay, okay; NOW the important question…
Where does he enter on the all-time list of franchise defenders?
It is quite an interesting question due to the many high-profile defenders that have come out of Philly. Brian Dawkins, Reggie White, Trent Cole, Jerome Brown, Chuck Bednarik, Eric Allen, etc.
No disrespect to Fletch, but Reggie White is the greatest Philadelphia Eagles player of all-time; and many would argue him as the second-best defender in NFL history, rightfully behind Lawrence Taylor.
After White & Brian Dawkins, I feel comfortable placing Fletcher Cox as the Philadelphia Eagles’ third-best defender of all-time. Due to the recency of his career (he was drafted in 2012), many are quick to throw him in the upper-echelon of Philadelphia history.
As a former all-pro and five-time Pro Bowl selection, Cox is certainly valid as a top-three defender. The Philadelphia Eagles’ first and only ever Super Bowl championship team centered around Fletcher Cox. He was the best player on a championship team.
As a 29-year-old, Fletcher Cox isn’t done writing the story of his NFL career.
He is well on his way to having his #91 hanging from the rafters at the Linc, and quite possibly a bust in Canton.
Featured Image: NBCSports.com Statistics: profootballreference.com, unless stated otherwise