ALL-PRO DEFENSIVE TACKLE FLETCHER COX FUELS THE DEFENSIVE LINE
BY CHRIS McPHERSON
2019 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES GAMEDAY MAGAZINE 25
Defensive end Vinny Curry ponders
Where does Fletcher Cox rank among the
best defensive linemen in Eagles history?
The 31-year-old Curry is a native of
Neptune, New Jersey, and a lifelong
Eagles fan. On the day after he was
chosen in the second round of the 2012
NFL Draft by his favorite team, Curry
was starstruck as he met safety Brian
Dawkins. The future Pro Football
Hall of Famer announced on that
day that he would sign a one-day
ceremonial contract and retire as a
He knows his Eagles, past and present.
Without hesitation, Curry declares,
Curry pauses. “Top three.”
Now, the wheels are spinning.
Curry finally ranks them. He puts the
Minister of Defense Reggie White
at the top. His draft classmate Cox
is number two, with Trent Cole
coming in at number three.
White is a slam dunk, no-brainer
choice, but Curry actually
deliberates about the top spot.
“The Reggie White I grew
up on is the Reggie White
from the Packers,” Curry
says. “When you think of
Fletcher Cox, you think
of Fletcher Cox of the
Curry might be slightly
biased, but that’s the
company that Cox keeps
Cox turns 29 next month
and is in the prime of an
already storied career. He’s been to four
consecutive Pro Bowls, the most ever
by an Eagles interior defensive lineman.
His 47 career sacks are also tops among
Eagles defensive interior linemen. After
anchoring the defensive line to the
franchise’s first Super Bowl win in 2017,
Cox came back and registered a careerhigh
10.5 sacks, earning first-team All-
Pro honors for the first time.
“There’s something deep in his heart.
He has a desire to want to be the best
as well as the desire to push others and
help make others great,” Curry says.
“He’s the same guy. From the younger
years to now, he’s a smarter football
player. One thing about him people
should know is that he’s got a
photographic memory. He’s so smart.
His feel for the game is crazy. During
the game, he’ll start pointing out stuff
and you think he’s mimicking the
quarterback. No, he’s actually calling out
As the Eagles made a push toward the
postseason in 2018, Cox played his best
ball. He was dominant in the buildup to
the playoffs with 5.5 sacks in the month
of December. He had a key fumble
recovery in the win over Houston. In
the Week 17 win over Washington that
punched the playoff ticket, Cox earned
NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors
after tying a career high with three sacks.
Cox suffered a foot injury in the Divisional
Round loss to New Orleans that sidelined
him for the entire offseason, so it’s taken
him a little bit longer to hit his stride
in 2019. Yet, Cox and the defense are
rounding into form at the perfect time.
The Eagles are 5-5, one game out of first
place in the NFC East with six battles
to go starting with today’s showdown
against the Seattle Seahawks.
“We all expected him to come around.
Maybe it’s taken a little longer than he
had in mind, but he came back from a
pretty significant injury and missed all of
Training Camp,” defensive coordinator
Jim Schwartz says. “I think it just goes to
show you it’s hard to just pick right up at
that point and be back to the player that
we saw in the New Orleans game at the
end of the year last year. But each game
he’s trended a little bit better.
“He’s played pretty well and again it’s
not just a numbers game, it’s just not
whether he’s having sacks. It’s the
disruptions, it’s forcing other players
– when we played the Jets, I thought
he played an outstanding game in that
game. It didn’t show up on the scorecard
with sacks, but like two other sacks that
can I think of were a direct result of
Fletch being disruptive.”
The Eagles pummeled the Jets’
quarterbacks Luke Falk and David Fales
to the tune of 10 sacks. Cox didn’t have
one, but he allowed his teammates to
feast. He walked Jets right guard Brian
Winters back in the pocket, which forced
Falk to make an errant throw that was
picked off by safety Rodney McLeod.
In the past three games, the Eagles’
defense has been dominant, helping set
the tone while the offense is rebounding
from several injuries. It should come as
no coincidence that Cox is fully healthy,
playing at that All-Pro level that has his
name mentioned with the greats. The
Eagles have allowed just 44 points (14.7
per contest) in the past three games,
resulting in two wins and a close loss
to the Patriots. Cox chipped in with 16
tackles and 1.5 sacks in that span.
In the Week 8 win over the Bills, he had a
rare one-on-one matchup with guard Jon