How Fletcher Cox made an impact without making a tackle

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It was a very lonely stat line.


In the official NFL stat book, that’s tackles / assisted tackles / combined tackles / sacks / sack yards / tackles for loss / hurries / interceptions / pass knockdowns / forced fumbles / fumble recoveries.

And Fletcher Cox was 0-for-11.

What Cox didn’t do was fill up the stat line Sunday in Atlanta.

What the six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle did do was occupy two blockers snap after snap and open up opportunities for his teammates, mainly fellow interior linemen Javon Hargrave and Hassan Ridgeway, who combined for three sacks, three tackles for loss, six hurries and a Matt Ryan intentional grounding for a 14-yard loss.

“It’s a great opportunity to see other guys making plays and flying around,” Cox said. “I think on Sunday I got a lot of attention and I expected that going into the game and that gives other guys chances to get 1-on-1’s.

“I did miss probably two or three sacks out there and that can be frustrating, but you can’t let it affect what you do and how happy I am for my teammates that went out there.”

This was only the third game of Cox’s 11-year career that he had all 0’s across his stat line. It happened in a loss in Dallas in his rookie year of 2012, a game he only played 20 snaps, and also in a loss to the Lions in 2019.

But this was different because the Eagles won 32-6 and Cox’s teammates took advantage of the opportunities he helped them work for.


“Fletch affected the game a lot of different ways that sometimes don’t show up on the stat sheet,” Nick Sirianni said. “They will come, though. When you affect the game the way he was affecting the game, those stats will come.”

As the game got out of hand, Cox did get a lot of rest in the second half. He played only 41 snaps, or 57 percent of the defensive plays. That’s his lowest workload on a percentage basis since a blowout win over the Bears in 2013.

That gave Milton Williams and Ridgeway both a chance to play a lot. Williams played 31 snaps in his NFL debut and Ridgway 26 snaps.

“You can’t be selfish about it,” Cox said. “Because a fresh Milton Williams is better than a tired Fletcher.”

Cox, who’s now 30, indicated that he still needs to work into the kind of shape he needs to be in to play 76 percent of the snaps, which he averaged the last three years.

“As the game went on, the coaches just being smart about it, knowing it’s the first game and knowing we were up and you can’t really put a load on guys, especially when you need them in the fourth quarter,” Cox said.

“But I think as the season goes I think that number will go up as things start to fall and really get into that actual game shape of just playing four quarters. But nothing to be frustrated about. It’s a great team win and I’m happy about it.

“Everybody flew around and made plays and hopefully we do the same thing this week.”