He’s going into Year 9 now, he’s made five straight Pro Bowls, and he’s at the point now where some veterans just coast through the rest of their career and pile up the honors and pocket millions of dollars and are OK with just being OK.
Not Fletcher Cox.
This guy will never be content.
“I just want to get better at everything,” Cox said Wednesday.
There’s a lot to admire about Cox. The intensity he plays with. The way he attacks practice. The ferocious physical nature of his game that rubs off on the rest of the team. The team-first mentality that’s built into his personality.
And there’s an impossibly high standard he’s constantly trying to live up to, a standard that drives him no matter how many honors he gets, no matter how many sacks he records.
The great ones all share that trait. Whether it was Reggie White, Seth Joyner or Eric Allen, they all had that burning determination to be even better, that refusal to be content with where they’re at as players.
And that’s the company Cox is in. One of the best in Eagles history.
If you’re a young player or any player really and you see the highest-paid or most-honored players working their ass off every day, you’re going to follow in line.
That's what leadership really is. Not all that rah-rah stuff. It's setting an example for the people around you.
That’s why veterans who mail it in are so damaging to any team.
Because young guys are always going to follow the lead of the established veterans, and if those guys are taking shortcuts and not fully committed, that’s when you get disasters like the 2011 Dream Team.
Cox was at work at the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday, self-scouting, watching tape of himself, and that’s all he could think about.
The plays he didn’t make.
I was watching film yesterday, we were all in there, and I saw some things I can get better at, and I’ve got to work on those things during training camp,” he said. “I feel like if I can get off of blocks [better], there are three or four or five [more] sacks out there for me. When you look at it on tape, man, if I would have gotten off a second sooner it’s a sack. Just little things like that. But not only me getting better but the whole group getting better.
Think about Cox’s career.
He’s got 48 sacks in eight seasons despite dealing with constant double teams. And he stuffs the run as well as anybody in the game.
And for a lot of his years here, he’s been a one-man wrecking crew.
The Eagles haven’t had a double-digit edge rusher since Cox was drafted, although Brandon Graham has been close a couple times.
And the defensive tackles he’s played next to the most — Bennie Logan, Timmy Jernigan, Cullen Jenkins, Haloti Ngata, Beau Allen, Derek Landri and Isaac Sopoaga — have all been either average, injured, disappointing or washed up.
He’s never had the benefit of elite talent around him.
In fact, the only Pro Bowlers Cox has ever taken the field with here are Malcolm Jenkins in 2015, 2017 and 2018 and Connor Barwin in 2014.
Reggie had Jerome, Seth, Clyde, Byron Evans, Wes and Andre and Eric Allen around him.
Cox has carried this defense for almost a decade.
And all he talks about is getting better.
Last year wasn’t Cox’s best year. He spent the offseason rehabbing the toe injury he suffered in the Saints playoff game and wasn’t really himself until the last month or so.
He still made his fifth straight Pro Bowl just because he’s that good.
But this offseason, he was able to get back to his normal offseason routine, and now he has a healthy Malik Jackson and newly acquired Javon Hargrave next to him, more interior talent than he’s ever seen.
If there is football this fall, the NFL is going to see a Hall of Fame talent wearing No. 91 for the Eagles.
A healthy, motivated, driven Fletcher Cox is scary news for opposing offenses.
We're lucky to have him.
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