Fletcher Cox is on a one-year contract this season. What is the latest on him and does he have a chance to be here beyond this year?
Let’s rewind the clock.
At the end of last October, Fletcher Cox had had enough. Frustrated with the passivity of first-year defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, the veteran vented in a press conference. He stated that he “didn’t agree with what was called on defence” and that “I don’t get paid to play screens. I get paid to get sacks”.
Cox’s 2021 Season
Cox’s 2021 season was difficult.
The veteran struggled to adjust to Gannon’s new defensive scheme. This can be easily seen by his diminished sack numbers in 2021. Prior to his Week 15 performance that he exploded for two sacks and seven pressures, the veteran had just recorded just one sack on the year. His total of 3.5 for the season was down from 6.5 in 2020.
Furthermore, Cox missed the Pro-Bowl after six consecutive appearances. Whilst he remained the clear heart and soul of the defense, he showed signs of ageing within his inconsistency and lack of impact in some games. Worryingly, according to PFF, he had zero pressures in four of his 16 appearances, and zero credited stops in another four. Thus, there were occasions in which he seemingly went missing for entire games, not having his usual dominant impact on the line of scrimmage.
Overall, surprisingly, Cox’s statistical production was sound last season. He was credited with 20 stops by PFF and had seven tackles for loss. He also added two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a defensive touchdown. Alternatively, his 35 combines tackles was the second lowest total of his career.
Once considered one of the premier interior defensive line presences in the NFL, Cox ended the 2021 season with chatter about his future with the Eagles. In an article published in PFF in June this year, Cox was ranked as the 16th overall interior defender in the league. Notably, writer Ben Linsey noted that the 6’4″, 310 pound force had posted an exceptional 92.7 PFF grade through 2014 to 2019, a truly elite level of performance that graded him third amongst his peers. Since 2020, however, Cox has only achieved a 73.3 overall grade, which ranks him 30th amongst qualifying interior defensive lineman.
Cox Explodes Out Of The Gate in 2022
Fletcher Cox’s 2022 season has been incredible thus far.
Despite being another year older, the veteran leader has had a revival. Cox has leapt out of the gates this season, returning to his dominant proclivity for wrecking games. He has recorded three sacks already, as well as being credited with nine pressures by PFF.
In the run game, he has added three stops and one tackle. He even managed to add a forced fumble into the mix as well. All that whilst appearing in 29 snaps defending the run and 86 rushing the passer. Impressive is an understatement.
Furthermore, his impact is being felt across the defensive front. The Eagles have twelve sacks and three forced fumbles so far this season. They have also had four interceptions on the season, created in large part due to the pressure that rushing only four has created. This has allowed the secondary to sit back in coverage looks.
The dominance of the defensive trenches has contributed significantly to the Eagles being ranked PFF’s fourth highest overall defensive grade.
What Does This Mean For Cox’s Future?
Fletcher Cox’s 2021 season now seems like an aberration. Or perhaps, and adjustment.
It seems like the defensive front has now adjusted to Gannon’s scheme. As the second-year coordinator has had some continuity with most of the roster, the Eagles seem to be hitting their stride on that side of the ball.
As a result, we can keep a close eye on Cox’s consistency throughout the next few weeks. If he can galvanize his hot start into sustainable production, he can show his financial viability for a new contract at the end of the season. If he can keep his current pace, he would be on pace for a total of 51 pressures (according to PFF). This would make him one of the premier interior disruptors in the NFL.
Cox’s ability to pressure opposing passers and disrupt the run is not what it used to be. That being said, the Eagles do not need that sort of production. His 2018 dominance is clearly behind him, where he achieved an absolutely unfathomable 95 total pressures and 10.5 sacks. If Cox can replicate can produce close to double digit sacks and more than fifty total pressures he will cement himself again as premium interior defender. If he can do that, surely the big man will be back for another year or two in Philly.
What do you think of Fletcher’s hot start? Do you think it is sustainable?
Let us know in the comments below.