Fletcher Cox is a $102 million man for a reason.
“When offensive line coaches game plan against us, I don’t want to speak for them, but I’m sure they start with No. 91 and say, ‘Okay, how do we keep this guy from wrecking the game?” Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz told the media Wednesday. “The next step to being a great player, and Fletch is, is being able to meet that and be able to still get a hit when they’re pitching around you.”
Schwartz knows the third-highest paid non quarterback in the NFL has a target on his back — which is why the team has made it a priority to surround him with weapons that can, borrowing Schwartz’ baseball reference, force teams to pitch to him.
“You have to try and find one-on-ones” Cox said, “and when those teams are sliding I have to find a way to get to the quarterback and that’s be being relentless and going out and doing anything. If we keep teams honest that will be good for everybody across the line. Everybody is going off then. At one point everybody has to get a one-on-one.”
If it’s a numbers game than the numbers are in the Eagles favor. Either Cox will get mismatched with a one-on-one duel against a lineman (he has battled against Brandon Brooks all camp long, one of the most exciting match ups to watch in camp) or he will draw a double team and open up an opportunity for an opponent.
With some combination of Tim Jernigan, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and Derek Barnett flanking Cox on the offensive line, it’s a win-win for the Eagles on every play.
“I would like everybody to succeed,” Cox said. “There’s enough money to go around. That’s part of being a pro, going out every game, every day and dominating, but always expect the unexpected.”
Which is why Cox shouldn’t expect too many easy match ups this season. And why should he? He earned the right to draw a double team every single play. And while he works in training camp on how to get between two defenders — or around them — to pressure the quarterback opposing offenses better not cut corners against him.
“I feel like someone is disrespecting me when they try and block me one-on-one,” Cox said.