Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox gives Derek Barnett a vote of confidence

Derek Barnett #96, Fletcher Cox #91 (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Derek Barnett #96, Fletcher Cox #91 (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia Eagles’ best player has his teammate’s back.

All offseason, we’ve had nice things to say about the Philadelphia Eagles‘ defensive tackle rotation. It hasn’t been quite the same story with the guys that play along the edges. If you’re worried about Fletcher Cox getting a little older or losing his motivation or you’re stressing about Malik Jackson‘s injury from a season ago, don’t be. The “Birds” aren’t.

Prior to 2019, Jackson had played in all 16 regular-season games in every year of his career since his rookie campaign in 2012. This isn’t a case of someone being injury-prone. It was simply a freak occurrence. He should be fine.

What about some of those other Philadelphia Eagles along the defensive line?

As just about every Eagles fan on Planet Earth knows, the “Birds” added Javon Hargrave during the most recent free-agency period. Throw in Hassan Ridgeway, and one might ask if Philadelphia’s defensive tackle rotation is the NFL’s best. In fact, they’re so good, the mind starts racing.

Here’s something to think about. With yet another defensive line coach taking the reigns in 2020, Matt Burke, it would seem like his interior would make life easier for anyone playing defensive end. If there was ever a year for Derek Barnett‘s breakout (yes, we say that every year), this would be the season.

If you’re worried about him, there may not be a reason to do that either. If you’re listening to what “91” has to say on the matter, you’ll definitely feel much better things. Here’s a quote from a recent discussion he had with the Philly media.

"Derek is one of the guys, I know all offseason that I kept in close touch with. I know he’s worked his butt off. I know he’s had a couple of injuries, missed a couple of seasons, but I know Derek, he always, when he was drafted, he always felt like he had a point to prove to anybody, to the whole world. Derek, he showed up as always. Derek shows up in shape (and is) ready to go. (He’s) focused on his job. (He’s) always ready to learn more, so I’m excited for Derek (this season)."

Again, with all of the talent that the “Birds” have at defensive tackle, it would seem like it wouldn’t matter who they put at defensive tackle, but we’ve all seen enough to know that isn’t how it works.

Guys are going to need to hustle and work hard because, if this defensive line doesn’t do its job in 2020, especially with all of the resources this franchise has invested in the trenches, they’re going to have to generate pressure, especially seeing as how the team’s defensive coordinator is seemingly allergic to sending a blitz. Somewhere, Buddy Ryan and Jim Johnson are turning over in their graves.

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Until we see how it plays out, here’s what we know. The Eagles’ best defensive end is their oldest. The reserves feature the likes of Josh Sweat and Shareef Miller. Derek Barnett will have to step up. The question is, can he? Thanks to Philly exercising his fifth-year option, we’ll have, at least 16 regular-season games to see if he can do so. Fingers are crossed.