PHILADELPHIA - Fletcher Cox wasn't his typically dominant self on Sunday during a 32-6 rout over Atlanta.
Or was he?
The gamebook had Cox as an 0-for despite leading the defensive line with 41 snaps, 57 percent of the team's defensive total. That's not exactly a common occurrence for the Eagles' six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle.
Now in his 11th NFL season, Cox has been whitewashed on the stat sheet only twice before, once as a rookie part-timer in 2012 against Dallas and in 2019 during a loss to the Detroit Lions.
In Atlanta, the Eagles' defensive line as a whole controlled the game with Cox's partner in the middle, Javon Hargrave, arguably having the best game of his career.
Part of that equation involves the offense sliding toward Cox in an effort to slow down what's regarded league-wide as Philadelphia's best defender.
"Fletcher, he gets all the slides," Hargrave said prior to practice on Thursday as the Eagles prepare to host the San Francisco 49ers in their home opener on Sunday (1 p.m.).
"He creates a lot of one-on-ones for everyone else so basically the whole [offensive] scheme is to stop him from doing anything so when he gets a double-team, I mean everybody else gotta win their one-on ones."
Nick Sirianni echoed something similar earlier in the week.
“Fletch affected the game a lot of different ways that sometimes don’t show up on the stat sheet,” the head coach said. “They will come, though. When you affect the game the way he was affecting the game, those stats will come.”
Cox noted he was close to a number of impactful plays against the Falcons and any personal frustration was alleviated by an emphatic team win.
“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 happy you are and how happy I am for my teammates," he said.. "... It was a big team win and you know everybody flew around making plays and hopefully we're doing the same thing this week [against San Francisco]."
The nature of the game against the Falcons allowed defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and D-Line coach Tracy Rocker to get veteran Hassan Ridgeway and rookie Milton Williams more snaps than planned, lowering Cox's so-called pitch count for down the road.
“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,” the 30-year-old Cox said. "... You can’t be selfish about it because a fresh Milton Williams is better than a tired Fletcher.”
Things won't always be that easy for the Eagles and when the stakes are dialed up into high-leverage situations Cox will be on the field and being asked to make plays.
"I think as the season goes I think [my snap count] will go up," said Cox.
For now, the team goals will suffice.
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.