It’s been a great start to the season for Eagles star defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. In three games, the Mississippi State product has put up 15 quarterback hurries, 12 combined tackles and 3 sacks. Advanced analytics prove his dominance so far, as PFF currently has him ranked as the #1 interior defensive lineman this season with an elite 92.4 grade. Cox has been a menace as both a run stuffer and pass rusher, and has made it very clear that defensive player of the year is his main goal.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has taken notice of Cox’s early season dominance stating:
“He’s playing extremely well. I think, too, with Derek Barnett and some of the rushes that he’s getting, Chris Long playing well, I think it just helps Fletcher,” Pederson said. “Haloti (Ngata) is in there taking some load. “So it’s a combination of guys that can allow Fletcher to have the success. Then it’s just his want to, his will to be a dominant defensive tackle. That’s what you’re seeing right now.”
It is not hard to see why Cox has been so effective this season. This offseason, Cox tried a unique training routine which proves to be paying off. Cox and trainer Deon Hodges decided to focus more on
“Quickness, being explosive, getting in and out of turns, change-of-direction stuff, all of the little things that most people don’t focus on. I feel one hundred percent different. I can tell the difference when I’m out there. Being able to get people off me quicker, see stuff a whole lot faster, it’s helped me a whole lot.”
Cox has the chance to carry his hot streak into week four when the Eagles visit Nashville to play the Tennessee Titans. The Titans offensive line is ranked 20th in the league. The right side of their offensive line is struggling mightily. Backup right tackle Kevin Pamphile is a serious weak link, and this is showing up in the Titans run game. The Titans run the ball the most in the NFL at 46.5% of the time, but are ranked just 10th in the NFL. They feature a tough, bruising running back in Derrick Henry and a shifty receiving back in Dion Lewis. However, with poor offensive line play, the Titans offense has only been able to put up one touchdown in three games this season. The Eagles defense has been superb against the run this season, only giving up 79.2 yards allowed per game.
The Titans team ranks 30th in NFL in points scored per game with a mere 16.3, 29th in total yards per game with 284, and are only converting 36.3% of their third-down attempts. Quarterback Marcus Mariota is returning from injury, but it is still to be determined if the is future at quarterback for the Titans, as he only holds a 53.9 passer rating this season.
To completely neutralize the Titans offense, the Eagles must create one-on-one matchups for Fletcher Cox. When Schwartz lines up Cox over the center, and keeps a defensive tackle and inside linebacker over the guards, Cox will almost certainly have an easy one-on-one battle. The sheer athleticism of the 310 pound behemoth makes him almost impossible to block for a mediocre center such a Ben Jones.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Eagles fans should be excited for this matchup against the Titans. The Titans have been battling injuries on their offensive line all season, and with the emergence of Fletcher Cox as a superstar defender, expect Cox and the Eagles defensive line to keep Mariota and the Titans in wraps all game.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports