As Jonathan Gannon talked about Fletcher Cox on Tuesday morning, he paused briefly.
“I don't know if he knows,” Gannon said. “He'll get a game ball. He was lights out on Sunday night.”
The Eagles could use more of that.
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In Sunday’s 40-33 win over the Packers on Sunday night, Cox had 1 sack, 2 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 3 QB pressures and a quarterback hit in just 31 defensive snaps.
Head coach Nick Sirianni called Sunday night Cox’s best game of the year.
“He was awesome in that game. He was on fire in that game,” Sirianni said. “That was awesome because people feed off him. That's your captain, your leader, and he goes out there and plays like that, everybody feeds off that. He's exciting to watch when he's creating havoc.”
Cox said he had been dealing with a foot injury recently but felt healthier against the Packers.
Whether or not it was legitimately Cox’s best game of the season isn’t important. What is important is that the Eagles get steady play from their $14 million defensive tackle the rest of the way.
You might remember that Cox was much better in the second half of the 2021 season and if he can do that again in 2022, it would really help the Eagles down the stretch as they make their push into the playoffs for what they hope will be a deep run.
Cox, who will turn 32 later this month, is past his prime and that’s not a knock on him. He once made six straight Pro Bowls from 2015-2020 and it’s unfair to expect him to get back to that level in his 11th NFL season. But it would help out an awful lot if he can keep playing like he did on Sunday night.
Before Sunday, Cox had gone seven games without a sack and had gone five straight games without a quarterback hit. Cox had seven QB hits in five games before going over a month without one. So the game against the Packers was a welcome sign from one of the Eagles most experienced players.
It’s worth noting that Cox’s 31 snaps (63%) on Sunday night is his lowest total of the 2022 season and his third-lowest percentage. It makes sense to limit Cox’s workload to get the most out of him down the stretch.
Remember a few weeks ago when Cox played 70 snaps (85%) against the Commanders? That really can’t happen again. And that’s where the additions of Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph — especially Suh — should really pay off for Cox.
“I think it's helped him with the workload,” Gannon said. “We talked about the one game where he played that many plays. I don't love that. That we talked about. I think Fletch is such a unicorn because he can play anything you ask him to play from all the spacings, all the different positions in those spacings. He doesn't have a weak spot in his game.
“He can plug and play around when certain guys are in, but I think that has helped a little bit just because of his workload and to really put him -- and it kind of freed us up a little bit to put him in some positions to really affect the game, which he did.”
This past offseason, Cox briefly became a free agent when the Eagles released him to avoid paying a huge guaranteed amount on his previous contract. They re-signed him a couple days later and still paid him borderline top-10 defensive tackle money. The Eagles are clearly a better team with Cox than without him but at the time it was fair to question the decision.
But if Cox can keep playing like the guy we saw Sunday night, he’ll be worth the investment, especially if the Eagles make a deep run.
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