Cox Sets Sights on Earning Defensive Player of the Year Award

By Paul Bowman, Eagledelphia Managing Editor

The Eagles have been blessed with great production from their defensive line and there is no better player on that line than Fletcher Cox. Cox was named to the 2012 All-Rookie team, has been voted by his fellow players as one of the top 100 players in the sport since 2016, has been selected as a second-team All-Pro by the Associated Press three times, was selected as a first-team All-Pro by both the Pro Football Writers Association and Sporting News, and has been selected to the Pro Bowl three times. Last season, he became a Super Bowl champion and this season he was elected a team captain. In his eighth year in the league, he has set his sights on another accomplishment: earning the Defensive Player of the Year Award.

While Eagles fans know that they have one of the premiere defensive linemen in the game, the “lack of respect” among the national media and from national analysts has put a chip on Cox’s shoulder. Cox told Tim McManus of ESPN:

“You think players just overlook stuff, but when you see your name not mentioned, it just puts a bigger chip on your shoulder when you know that you’re supposed to be mentioned as one of the top three players at your position and you’re not. I take that with a full spoon and it just puts a bigger chip on my shoulder, ball out and show the league why my name should be mentioned when they talk about top players in the league.”

This disrespect dates back to the 2012 draft for Cox. Widely considered the best defensive lineman in the draft, he was not even the first defensive tackle drafted. The Eagles held the 15th pick in the draft that year and wanted to land an impact lineman. The first 10 picks passed without any defensive lineman being picked. With the 11th pick, the Kansas City Chiefs took Dontari Poe. The Eagles knew they had to make their move and traded up to the 12th pick to select their man – Fletcher Cox.

Despite being regarded as the best lineman in the draft, he was the second tackle drafted. Poe is a good player, but is he as good as Cox? Comparing the two, Cox has clearly been the pick that has paid off more.

Totals Table
Sack Sack Sack Fumb Fumb Fumb Fumb Def Def Def
Rk Player From To CarAV G Tkl Ast Sk FF FR Yds TD Int Yds TD
1 Fletcher Cox 2012 2018 56 95 210 82 36.0 7 9 44 2 0 0 0
2 Dontari Poe 2012 2018 47 96 180 62 15.5 2 1 0 0 0 0 0
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 9/21/2018.

That disrespect he was shown to Cox by other teams in the draft continues to be shown to him around the league. Aaron Donald is regularly touted as the best defensive lineman in the league and if you’ve seen any game played by the Oakland Raiders or Chicago Bears this season, you know that Khalil Mack is never left out of the conversation. You hear them talk about the greatest around the league, but Cox is almost never brought up when discussing defensive tackles.

In the players’ rankings of the top 100 players of 2018, Cox fell from 38 to 69. There were 13 defensive linemen ranked ahead of him, four of which were tackles. Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, Geno Atkins and Jurrell Casey were all ranked ahead of him. Let’s look at Cox’s stats compared to those four and Gerald McCoy (who was listed as the second best DT in the league prior to the start of this season by To make everything comparable, we’ll only look at stats since 2014 – the year that Aaron Donald joined the league.

Totals Table
Sacks & Tackles Fumbles Def Interceptions
Rk Player From To CarAV G Tkl Ast Sk FF FR Yds TD Int Yds TD
1 Geno Atkins 2014 2018 41 66 108 57 35.0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 Jurrell Casey 2014 2018 32 65 157 80 25.0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 Fletcher Cox 2014 2018 47 64 146 63 27.5 6 8 41 2 0 0 0
4 Aaron Donald 2014 2018 57 64 150 59 39.0 9 2 40 0 0 0 0
5 Gerald McCoy 2014 2018 33 60 115 41 31.0 3 2 0 0 0 0 0
6 Ndamukong Suh 2014 2018 37 66 156 84 24.0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 9/21/2018.

Cox has the most fumble recoveries, is second in career value and forced fumbles and fourth in both tackles and sacks. It is obvious that Donald runs away with nearly every stat, but other than him, there is no more complete player. If you look at the others, they either have sacks or they have tackles. Other than Donald and Cox, each player seems to have inflated sacks (meaning they are good in pass defense) or inflated tackles (run defense). Cox, however, is able to play both the run and pass at a high level which is why his career value is so much higher than everyone other than Donald.

The fact that he does not have statistics heavily weighted in one direction may be part of the reason that he is not discussed more often – he is hanging just off the top of the leaderboard for all the stats rather than leading in one. Be that true or not, Cox is sick of being left out and is using that to power his play this season.

In the first two games of this season, Cox has easily been the most dependable defensive lineman, racking up eight tackles and two and a half sacks already. He should be in for a huge game on Sunday against a Colts team with a rotating door of different combinations of offensive lineman each week.

Go to top button