Fletcher Cox: ‘You have to play what’s being called’

Fletcher Cox (Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Fletcher Cox (Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /

When the Philadelphia Eagles walked into Mercedes Benz Stadium on September 12th, two of their veterans along the defensive line, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham, simultaneously walked into their tenth and 12th season respectively. The questions were about what they’d look like between the whistles.

Both are 30 years of age. Cox turns 31 in December. Graham turned 33 years young this past April. Both are coming off of Pro Bowl seasons. We believed that, in order for the Birds to elevate beyond the below-average to the average level, that these were two of the guys that would have to play, shall we say, out of their minds. Unfortunately, B.G. was lost for the season after only playing 15 snaps.

Fletcher Cox has appeared in and started each of Philly’s seven games, and the argument can be made that he’s in the midst of what might be the worst season of what’s sure to be a Hall of Fame career.

The frustration appears to be bubbling over for Fletcher Cox.

Following yet another gut-wrenching loss by the Eagles in Week 7, many of the leaders on this team, as they always do, spoke with the media. For Cox, it was the last leg of yet another frustrating outing. He notched a pedestrian two tackles and wasn’t much of a factor. Strangely, that’s been a common theme in 2021.

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Some have said he’s deteriorated and is in the midst of a decline. Some have blamed coaching and Jonathan Gannon’s defensive scheme. Some say it’s too vanilla. Others say that he’s afraid and isn’t allowing his stars to compete, that he’s playing more reactionary than aggressive. Cox has even mentioned that part of the reason that his production is lacking is that he’s asked to do too many things.

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Following Week 7’s game, we saw a different Cox. The frustration is showing, and by the looks of things, though he’ll never say it, Gannon’s scheme may be much of the reason why that’s the case.

"Honestly, it’s just not what it’s been. I’ve just got to play what’s being called… I’m so used to playing so aggressive, I mean for the last however many years I’ve been playing, and it’s just changed. So, you can’t be as aggressive. You just gotta play what’s being called."

Ouch… Now, let’s be honest (and fair). Cox spent several minutes discussing how this team will stick together and fight through this, but come on. That’s a guy that isn’t thrilled with how he’s being utilized right? Is that a fair assessment, or are we reading too much into this?

Don’t confuse this with finger-pointing. The captain on defense is most definitely holding himself accountable.

"It’s the little things you know? I think we (have to be) more aggressive upfront. I think that starts with me… Sometimes, when I’m too aggressive, it kind of takes me back to my old ways… It hurts us sometimes. It helps us sometimes."

Perhaps it’s this last statement that sums this all up though.

"I’m not used to double-teams staying on me two or three yards down the field. You just get tired of six (or) seven hundred pounds laying on you. You want to do something about it. Obviously being the player that I am, you can only take so much, and I’m going to do something about it. I’m going to be aggressive."

One thing is clear. Adjustments must be made and immediately. Cox has been the good soldier for a decade, but he’s also a captain and one of the most respected guys in the locker room. Maybe it’s his words that will force his coaches into action.