Eagles

Fletcher Cox wants to be Defensive Player of Year — can he?

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Fletcher Cox wants to be Defensive Player of Year — can he?

After the Eagles finished their Super Bowl season, Fletcher Cox had a conversation with his defensive line coach, Chris Wilson. 

Cox told Wilson he wants to become the AP's Defensive Player of the Year. 

“I said, ‘Let’s do it. I’m all in,’” Wilson remembered this week. 

Cox is already the best defensive player on his own team. He’s already a perennial Pro Bowler, one of the best DTs in the NFL and has already signed his name on a $100 million contract. 

The 27-year-old wasn’t shy about sharing his new goal earlier this spring. His next goal is to win DPOY, an award an Eagles player hasn’t taken home since 1987, when Reggie White won it. 

But … can he actually do it? 

“I don’t see why not,” said Wilson, who probably knows Cox as well as any coach after coaching him in college and now in the pros. “It’s like anybody, he’s one of those difference makers in this league. He’s on a good football team and so I believe he has a chance to be whatever he wants to be, especially if we can keep him healthy and we can keep him playing at the level he’s playing at. 

“I’m excited to watch him. He’s had a great offseason. The way he’s competed this offseason, the few years we’ve had together, this is the best one I’ve seen him have up to this point.”

Wilson brought up the point that the award normally goes to one of the best defensive players on one of the best teams. That part seems to be true, historically. Of the last 20 DPOY winners, 18 were on winning teams. The only two who weren’t were Jason Taylor in 2006 and Michael Strahan in 2001. The teams of these players have averaged 10.7 wins per season, with plenty of 12-win seasons in the mix. So Cox has that going for him; the Eagles should be good. 

But the bigger issue is his sack total. 

Cox had a great season in 2017 but finished with just 5.5 sacks. His career high was 9.5 back in 2015. He’s never been a double-digit sack guy, which seems to be a prerequisite for any defensive lineman who wins the award. 

The good news: Of the last 20 players to win DPOY, 11 have been defensive linemen (including 3-4 OLBs). And six of the last seven. 

The bad news: Every single one of those 11 finished with double-digit sacks, a threshold Cox has never surpassed. In fact, the 11 defensive linemen to win DPOY in the last 20 years have averaged over 14.0 sacks in their award-winning seasons. 

“But I look at it, are you the most complete player?” Wilson said. “A guy who can play the run, a guy who limit his mistakes to the minimum, a guy who makes everybody in the building better because he’s in the building. I think Fletcher has that ability to be all those. If he can get to double digits (in sacks), great. That means we’re in the lead of a lot of games.”

That might be how Wilson sees the award, but it’s clearly not how voters see the award. Winning matters, but not as much as stats. If Cox doesn’t get into double digits, he can still be a great player, but he’s not winning this award. 

Here’s a look at the last 20 winners: 

2017: DT Aaron Donald — 11 sacks, team record (11-5)

2016: DE Khalil Mack — 11 sacks, (12-4)

2015: DE J.J. Watt — 17.5 sacks, (9-7)

2014: DE J.J. Watt — 20.5 sacks, (9-7)

2013: LB Luke Kuechly — team record (12-4)

2012: DE J.J. Watt — 20.5 sacks, (12-4)

2011: OLB Terrell Suggs — 14 sacks, (12-4)

2010: S Troy Polamalu — team record (12-4)

2009: DB Charles Woodson — team record (11-5)

2008: OLB James Harrison — 16 sacks, (12-4)

2007: S Bob Sanders — team record (13-3)

2006: DE Jason Taylor — 13.5 sacks, (6-10)

2005: LB Brian Urlacher — team record (11-5)

2004: S Ed Reed — team record (9-7)

2003: LB Ray Lewis — team record (10-6)

2002: LB Derrick Brooks — team record (12-4)

2001: DE Michael Strahan — 22.5 sacks, (7-9)

2000: LB Ray Lewis — team record (12-4) 

1999: DT Warren Sapp — 12.5 sacks, (11-5)

1998: DE Reggie White — 16 sacks, (11-5)

NFL rule changes: Eagles' proposed onside kick alternative doesn't get approved

NFL rule changes: Eagles' proposed onside kick alternative doesn't get approved

The Eagles’ proposal to offer teams an onside kick alternative did not get approved by NFL owners today. 

That rule change proposal has been tabled for now, according to several reports, and would not have had enough support if it came up for a vote. 

That’s a shame. Because it would have been a fun rule change. The proposed rule would have allowed teams to have an untimed 4th-and-15 play from their own 25-yard line to retain possession. They would have been able to do that twice per game in regulation. 

On Wednesday, I outlined why the rule would have given the Eagles an advantage on offense

And despite what you might think, it also would have given them an advantage on defense. Over the last four years, the Eagles have the second-best defense in the NFL in 3rd- and 4th-and-15-plus situations. Excluding kicks, they have allowed first downs on just 6.0% of those plays. 

While that proposal from the Eagles didn’t pass, they had one that did. In total, three new playing rules and one bylaw rule passed:

• From the Eagles: To make permanent the expansion of automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul, and any successful or unsuccessful Try attempt. 

(This rule was implemented on a trial basis and it’s now permanent) 

• From competition committee: Expands defenseless player protection to a kickoff or punt returner who is in possession of the ball but who has not had time to avoid or ward off the impending contact of an opponent.

• From competition committee: Prevents teams from manipulating the game clock by committing multiple dead-ball fouls while the clock is running. 

• The bylaw change increases the number of players teams are allowed to return from Injured Reserve per season from two to three.

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Longtime NFL cornerback DeAngelo Hall opens up about Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson as teammates

Longtime NFL cornerback DeAngelo Hall opens up about Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson as teammates

Longtime NFL cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who had 43 interceptions and made three Pro Bowl teams before retiring following the 2017 season, wrote this week about his five favorite teammates of all-time.

Two of them are very familiar names.

In a piece on NFL.com, Hall listed Michael Vick as his favorite teammate of all-time and also included DeSean Jackson at No. 4.

Considering that he had over 500 teammates, that's impressive! 

Hall spent 2004 through 2006 with Vick in Atlanta and 2014 through 2016 with D-Jack in Washington. He wrote about his favorite teammates in a first-person piece on NFL.com.

Here’s part of what Hall wrote about Vick:

Growing up in Virginia, I remember watching Vick play at Virginia Tech from afar (before I got there) and was mesmerized by what he did as a quarterback. When I arrived in Atlanta my rookie year, I quickly realized that everything people said about Vick was true. He was revolutionary. Sure, I was used to seeing quarterbacks run all over the field in high school and even college. It was unusual to see a player do it at the NFL level, though, and he did it all the time. I remember getting up out of my seat on almost every drive when our offense was on the field -- when the defensive players usually sat down to catch our breath on the sidelines -- because Vick was exciting as hell to watch. And, hey, we had the best seat in the house.

Vick, who went on to spend five seasons with Jackson in Philly, had one of his best seasons ever with Hall in Atlanta in 2004, when the Falcons wound up losing to the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game.

“One thing Vick didn't get enough credit for was his arm strength,” Hall wrote. “Until you're physically on the field and trying to stop Vick, you don't realize how difficult it was. I had to be in tight coverage on every route because he could throw the hell out of the ball and drop it right into the receiver's hands. I gained much more respect for that part of his game after playing with him in Atlanta early in my career.”

The Falcons traded Hall to the Raiders in the middle of 2008, but they released him after just eight games.

He signed three days later with the Redskins and spent the last 9½ seasons of his career in Washington, including three years with Jackson.

We didn't start out as great friends. That's no secret,” Hall wrote. “With Jackson being a Philadelphia Eagle for the first six years of his career and me being a DB in Washington at that time, how could we be? But when I got the chance to help recruit him to Washington in 2014 -- my then-teammate Pierre Garcon, rapper Wale and I took him out in D.C. -- I was stoked because I would no longer have to play against him. And from his first day in Washington, he pushed me and made me work in practice like no other receiver had. I generally wasn't worried about receivers out-running me, but I was with DJax. He was a younger speedster and I was a veteran who still felt like I could stay with anyone. He forced me to perfect my technique because I couldn't rely solely on my speed against him. We were both great at tracking the ball -- an aspect of my game that I always prided myself on -- and we had fierce competitions in practice. I wish that I had been healthier during our time together and that I had been teammates with a receiver of his caliber for more of my career. Iron sharpens iron -- and we bettered each other.

Jackson signed with the Redskins after Chip Kelly engineered his release from the Eagles after the 2013 season. 

Jackson caught 142 passes for 2,702 yards and 14 touchdowns in three seasons with the Redskins before spending two years in Tampa and then returning to the Eagles before last season.

Hall said Jackson “is the total package as far as receivers are concerned, in my opinion, and it's too bad he didn't reach even greater heights with the Redskins. Sure, he had two 1,000-yard receiving seasons in Washington and led the league in yards per catch in 2014 and '16 (20.9 and 17.9 ypc, respectively) but I still think DJax could've been more of a centerpiece for us during those years. Years later, he's still playing at a high level -- just with those damn Eagles again.”

Hall had four interceptions in his career against the Eagles, tied with Ricky Manning for the most vs. the Eagles in the last 20 years. He victimized Donovan McNabb, Nick Foles, Vince Young and Kevin Kolb once each.

So he might speak fondly of Vick and D-Jack, don’t expect many people in Philly to speak fondly of Hall.

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