Cox's breakout game puts him in spotlight
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Sacrificing personal stats for team goals has cost Fletcher Cox individual glory.
Maybe not anymore.
It'll be hard for people - i.e. Pro Bowl voters - to ignore Cox after he sacked Drew Brees three times, forced two fumbles and recovered one in Philadelphia's 39-17 win over New Orleans on Sunday.
''He's been a very disruptive force on the defensive line since we've been here,'' coach Chip Kelly said. ''I think he's just starting to get noticed what he probably should have gotten before. You go back to last year, and an opponent is talking about going in, getting ready to play us, and they're talking about Fletcher's name.''
Cox, a first-round pick in 2012, has been the Eagles' best defensive lineman since he arrived. But he doesn't rack up big sack numbers in defensive coordinator Bill Davis' 3-4 scheme. His priority in the two-gap system is to hold up blocks to allow other players to make the plays. Cox frees up teammates by drawing a double team and he still provides plenty of pressure.
''I hope the outside world recognizes the talent that he has,'' Davis said. ''He's a Pro-Bowl-caliber player. I've been around a long time, and that's what they look like. They play the run and they cause disruptions in the passing game. Sack numbers come and go, but he has the skill set.''
Another monster game Monday night when the Eagles (2-3) host the New York Giants (3-2) could secure Cox's ticket to Hawaii after the season.
Cox is the first Eagles player with three sacks and two forced fumbles in the same game since sacks became an official stat in 1982. He has four sacks this season and 16 1/2 in his career. His highest total was 5 1/2 in his rookie season before Kelly and Davis arrived.
''You can just watch him play and see what he means to our team,'' safety Malcolm Jenkins said. ''A lot of time he probably doesn't get all of the glory he deserves along with our whole defensive line.''
Cox and the rest of the defensive linemen, including Cedric Thornton and Bennie Logan, are outstanding run stoppers. The Eagles are ranked 10th against the run and haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in the past 17 games. Jenkins and safety Walter Thurmond make a lot of tackles for losses because the linemen force runners to go sideways quite often.
When Cox had a chance to discuss his big game, he credited the secondary for their excellent coverage.
''All three of those sacks were coverage sacks,'' he said. ''When the quarterback holds the football, it gives the rush time to get there.''
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL
Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP-RobMaaddi