Fletcher Cox drawing league-wide praise

In a year where the Eagles defense has shown a core starting to blossom, Fletcher Cox has been the central piece to the puzzle.

After adding another sack, to reach a new career-high 6.5 sacks, seven solo tackles and one assisted tackle in Sunday's win over the Bills, the rest of the league is starting to take notice.

For the second straight week, the defensive lineman who is on his way to an All-Pro season, caught the attention of an AFC East coach.

"That 91 is a good player," Rex Ryan said after the Eagles 23-20 win over the Bills. "I was laughing when I saw him being compared to Jerome Brown, but I’m not laughing now. The kid is a pretty good player."

One week earlier, Cox earned similar praise from Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

"I said all week they have a good defensive team and they do," Belichick said. "They have one of the best fronts. Fletcher Cox is one of the best defensive linemen in the league. They have a good defense."

This is a growing theme, and it's just now that the rest of the league is taking notice.

In his fourth season as a member of the Eagles, after being the team's top draft pick in 2012, Cox, who turned 25 on Sunday, is becoming one of the best defensive pass rushers in the game.

Against the Patriots, he didn't have a sack, but he was a big reason why the Eagles combined for four sacks and 13 knockdowns of Tom Brady. He had just the one sack of Tyrod Taylor on Sunday against Buffalo, but again, was a force on the pass rush and helped draw the Bills into several holding penalties.

"Fletcher Cox, he ate my lunch today," Bills lineman Richie Incognito said. "He really shows up on film and makes a lot of plays. I got to see it first-hand today. He got me early and often."

Cox is just one of the pieces that is starting to help the Eagles form some sort of a core on defense. As part of a front that features Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham and Bennie Logan, the Eagles are starting to instill fear in opposing teams, as evidence by the previous two weeks.

Teams have learned what facing the Eagles defensive line can do. When they are on their game and supplying pressure, they are as good as any team in the league on the pass rush. The difference now is that some of these players are earning a reputation.

With three games to go in the season and a three-way tie atop the NFC East, the Eagles will need that defensive group to stand out and live up to that growing reputation. Cox is at the center of it all, and he's becoming one of the great linemen in the NFL.

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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