Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox has the talent to be an elite player. He has the highest potential of any defensive player on the Eagles roster because he is the most talented defensive player the Eagles have. However, Cox has games where he just doesn’t turn up and contribute at all. He was superb for the first half of the season but really struggled towards the end of the season. I am not sure why this happened as the defense performed better towards the end of the season; maybe Cox did not have the fitness to play the amount of snaps he was playing as he was not rotated enough. I also understand the argument that it was a new scheme for Cox but that does not make a lot of sense as he performed extremely well in certain games and did play some 3-4 defensive end in college.
The chart above is from the wonderful guys at Pro Football Focus and the rest of the stats used in this article are also from there. Although no grading system is perfect, it does show how dominant Cox was up till week ten and how he regressed as the season went on. When I was looking through stats comparing Cox to other 3-4 defensive ends I came across this stat which I found unbelievable. In the first nine weeks of the season, Fletcher Cox had 40 QB hurries which was second in the league out of all 3-4 defensive ends. The only player to rank above him was Texans star JJ Watt who had 41 QB hurries. JJ Watt in my opinion is the best player in the NFL and for Cox to only be 1 hurry behind him after 9 weeks is quite incredible. However, by the end of the season, Cox only had 49 overall QB hurries. JJ Watt on the other hand continued to dominate and ended the season with a staggering 74 QB hurries. I am not saying that for the first nine weeks of the season Cox was on the same level as JJ Watt as Watt is on a different level to everyone. However, Cox showed just how talented he really is during the first half of the season. The table below shows how Cox struggled to get after the quarterback towards the end of the season.
Fletcher Cox should be the Eagles best defensive player next season and the Eagles need him to be. I watched a lot of college tape when the Eagles drafted Cox in the 1st round of the 2012 draft and I could not believe that he fell to the 12th pick. He has the athleticism to be a special player and showed flashes of it last year. The Eagles need to improve their pass rush to compete with the elite and Fletcher Cox must step up if the Eagles are to do so. Cox managed 0 QB hurries in the last two games of the season, against the Cowboys and the Saints, this is not good enough as the Eagles need better production from their most talented player in these big games. Cox is heading into his third year next year and he will hopefully perform much more consistently and not struggle in the second half of the season. I believe the first half of the season was not a fluke and that is how good Cox really can be. The Eagles need the real Fletcher Cox to stand up for all of next season; not just for half of it.