rewards when the games begin. Hodges met Cox in 2013
and the two started working together a year later. Hodges
calls Cox “one of a kind when it comes to natural talent,”
but the key has been Hodges working with Cox honestly
with star entitlement as part of the process. He wanted
Cox to know that he is more than a defensive lineman. He’s
an athlete, and he needs to treat his workouts that way
and then go play that way.
“The league is going toward hybrid guys, not just having
someone like Fletcher be an interior defensive lineman.
He needed to understand that, and he did very quickly,”
Hodges says. “He is naturally gifted with strength and
agility so now it was time to hone in on the components
of what works better. He is a naturally strong guy, an extra
effort guy. I never want to see him walking on the field.
He’s seeing how he works on the field and the difference it
makes. (Defensive line coach) Chris Wilson is taking care of
the reps and keeping him fresh, playing Fletcher 40 to 50
snaps a game. Now it’s just about playing ball and Fletcher
is playing like his hair is on fire.”
He sure is.
Cox is not only wrecking blocking schemes to get to
the quarterback. He’s chasing down screen passes and
blowing up checkdowns. He’s dominating against the run
and if Cox isn’t around the ball, he’s taking blockers out
of the equation and giving other defensive players better
opportunities to get to the football.
We are only four games into the season, but Cox is
playing with a bigger purpose in mind.
“The main thing when we got together after the Super
Bowl was that he needed to take some time and enjoy the
Super Bowl and embrace it,” Hodges says. “When it was
time to get to work, Fletcher was right there. I told him,
‘The last thing I want is for you to get fat and happy.’ He’s
made money, he’s been in the Pro Bowl, and now he won
the Super Bowl. I’ve tapped into what makes him tick. Last
year he was upset that he wasn’t named a team captain,
now we talk about being a Defensive Player of the Year.
That’s how I got his attention.
“He’s really embraced it. He’s playing the game with
the neck up. What’s next? How about the Hall of Fame?
How can we get to that 10-year gold jacket talk? Is that
something you really want?”
Cox is playing that way. An already-great player has taken
his game up a notch.
“I just go out and be the best Fletcher I can be on
Sundays,” Cox says, “and I think the world, the people that
know football, people that have watched me play know
that I am one of the best D-linemen in the league.”
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES GAMEDAY MAGAZINE 49