Fletcher Cox

Fletcher Cox’s next big goal is a lofty one

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Fletcher Cox’s next big goal is a lofty one

Fletcher Cox has had a pretty successful six years in the NFL so far. From the time he was drafted in the first round in 2012, he’s become one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. 

He’s a perennial Pro Bowler, he cashed in on a $100 million contract and he won a Super Bowl. 

What’s the next box to check? 

“The next box for me, and I’m not scared to say, I’ve had multiple Pro Bowls, I won the Pro Bowl,” Cox said. “The next thing for me is to be Defensive Player of the Year. That’s my thing. I’ve been working towards that.”

The last Eagles player — and only Eagles player — to win Defensive Player of the Year was Reggie White way back in 1987. 

It’s a lofty goal, but it’s not impossible. Just last year, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald won the award. In 2014 and 2015, the award was taken by J.J. Watt, who is basically an interior rusher too. The last seven DPOY awards have gone to linemen or linebackers. 

If Cox wants to win it, he’s going to need an even bigger season. While he was incredibly disruptive in 2017, he had just 5½ sacks. Donald had 11 last year, Khalil Mack had 11 in 2016 and Watt averaged 19½ in his three DPOY seasons. 

“I think the most important thing is for me to keep myself in shape,” Cox said. “Once I keep myself in shape and keep myself in the same routine, maybe switch a few things up but keep myself in the same routine. It makes me a better player, makes me a better person and a better teammate. I share that with a lot of young guys that come in there.”

Cox, 27, wants to focus on some technique issues he noticed from last year. He didn’t get into specifics but said that’s the purpose of the offseason.  

Even if Cox never wins a DPOY award, he won’t walk away from the game without a really cool accolade. His hometown of Yazoo City, Mississippi, made sure of it. After Cox became a Super Bowl champion, his hometown named its longest street after him. 

If you ever find yourself in Yazoo City, you might end up driving down Fletcher Cox Road. It took the place of River Road, which makes sense. There are rivers everywhere; there are far fewer players like Fletcher Cox. 

So maybe the top honor for a defensive player in the NFL isn’t out of the question. 

Eagles pay homage to all-time greats by rocking their throwbacks at parade

Eagles pay homage to all-time greats by rocking their throwbacks at parade

Thursday’s epic championship parade was a celebration of the 2017 Eagles team bringing home the Super Bowl trophy to Philadelphia for the first time ever.

But fans of the Birds know that this championship was a celebration of all of the teams and fans that came before them.

That fact was not lost on these Eagles players as they rode down Broad Street with the Lombardi Trophy.

“Is that Jason Peters rocking a Brian Dawkins’ jersey!?!” I screamed to anyone willing to listen as I stood on the rail near Broad and South as a bus rolled in from a distance.

Indeed it was. And it was awesome.

One of the best Eagles’ players ever wearing the jersey of perhaps the greatest Eagle ever. It was an incredible gesture not lost on anyone.

And Peters was just one of many of the current players to rock a throwback.

Peters paid homage to Dawk. Fletcher Cox rocked Reggie White. Brent Celek wore Harold Carmichael’s No. 17 jersey. Rodney McLeod was repping Randall Cunningham. 

Eagles fans wear these throwbacks all the time but it was unique to see the current guys do the same.

Celek spoke to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Danny Pommels while riding the bus down Broad about the thought behind his jersey choice.

“I used to come in the building everyday and see Harold. That guy taught me a lot about what it means to be a professional athlete and to be a man in this league,” Celek said.

“These guys that came before us, they deserve it. They deserve everything that we’re going through right now. They weren’t able to experience it. I just want them to be a part of it a little bit.”

Derrick Gunn caught up with Carmichael in front of the Art Musem and asked him about Celek's sartorial selection.

“This is a great honor that he’s paying tribute to me. Brent called me the other day, he said, ‘I want to wear your jersey but I can’t find one.’ I said, ‘well, Brent, they’re all sold out!’ I told him I’d look and see what I had for him,” Carmichael said.

It also produced one of the most iconic images of the memorable day of Celek atop the Art Museum steps with a familiar hat.

A beautiful, fitting reward for Brandon Graham

A beautiful, fitting reward for Brandon Graham

MINNEAPOLIS — A few days before Super Bowl LII, Eagles defensive line coach Chris Wilson sat at a round table in a dingy, poorly-lit corner of a giant empty storage room at the Mall of America and preached patience. 

He preached that even if his players weren't getting to Tom Brady for the first quarter or first half or even until the very end, they couldn't stop trying. Eventually their moment would come. 

He was right. 

"You don't get to beat the G.O.A.T. every day," Wilson said late Sunday night, wearing a smile to go along with his new Super Bowl champs gear as he walked out of the victorious locker room in the bowels of U.S. Bank Stadium. 

Brandon Graham listened to his coach. He was patient. After the Eagles hadn't sacked Brady all night, after they had barely gotten a finger on him, Graham pulled off one of the biggest plays in the Eagles' 41-33 Super Bowl win (see breakdown). His patience is a big reason there's going to be a parade down Broad Street (see celebration).

With just over two minutes remaining in Super Bowl LII, Graham came around and knocked the ball out of Brady's hands. From there, Derek Barnett was able to scoop it up and the Eagles were able to hold on for their first Lombardi Trophy (see Roob's observations)

"The main thing was, I told Brandon and Chris (Long) to just do their thing," Fletcher Cox said. "I told them to do whatever they want. I just tried to get a push up the middle to cause some disruption and [I told him to just do] what Brandon Graham does. Making plays. Those are the things we talk about, just playing together and sticking together as a unit. Nobody is trying their own gain. I think at the end of the day, that's what it came down to — everyone just playing together." 

Graham's sack was the only one the Eagles' heralded defensive line had all game. It was the only one it needed. 

Brady and the Patriots put up an astounding 613 total offensive yards, the most any team has ever had in a Super Bowl. And it didn't matter. 

"We don't care how many yards we gave up," Malcolm Jenkins said. "We were just trying to win."

As Brady and the Patriots spent most of Sunday night in a shootout with Nick Foles and the Eagles' offense, Graham and his defensive line teammates were just trying to heed the words of advice from their position coach. 

Stay patient. 

Stay patient. 

Stay patient. 

"We knew," Graham said. "We knew that Tom Brady was going to try to take us out of the game. We knew we were going to have an opportunity in there where he was going to have to hold the ball. We just kept working, kept working, not getting frustrated, we had to keep talking to each other. 'Hey, we're going to make a play, we're going to win this thing.' People believed and at the end of the day, we won the game and we just kept staying strong."

After Graham knocked the ball free and it was loose on the vibrant green turf that would soon be covered in Lombardi Trophy-shaped confetti, the Eagles needed a rookie to do his job. They needed Barnett to fall on it. 

"What's going through my head?" Barnett said, repeating the question. "Secure the ball. Secure the ball and then try to score."

Barnett wasn't able to get to the end zone, but the Eagles' offense got the ball back, killed some time and then the defense held once more.  

It's fitting in a way that Graham's patience paid off in the Eagles' Super Bowl win. For a former first-round pick, who was once deemed a bust, he's certainly come a long way. He's one of the best players on the team, he's one of the most disruptive defensive ends in football, he's become a fan favorite. 

And now he's a world champion. 

He just had to be patient to get there. 

"We about to have a party on Broad Street, baby!" Graham said. "I know they tearing it up now, but we about to come and tear it up some more."