LAS VEGAS – There’s no telling how many times Fletcher Cox bit his tongue in the interview room in the bowls of Allegiant Stadium following yet another Eagles lopsided loss, this one, 33-22, to the host Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.
As it was, he said plenty.
In the aftermath of yet another Eagles loss, the veteran defensive tackle took aim at rookie defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.
“Honestly, (the defense) is not what it’s been,” said Cox. “I just have to play with what’s being called. When you’re so used to playing so aggressive the last, however, many years I’ve been playing. It’s just changed, so you can’t be as aggressive. You have to play what’s being called.”
Cox doesn’t like what’s being called.
He is tired of being double-teamed and being pushed off the line of scrimmage while linebackers are supposed to clean up.
“I’m not used to double teams staying on me two, three yards down the field,” he said. “That’s just frustration and when you get frustrated and tired of 600, 700 pounds laying on you, you want to do something about it. Being the player I am, I can only take so much and I’m going to do something about it and I’m going to be aggressive.”
It sounded as if Cox admitted that sometimes he gets frustrated to the point where he tries to take matters into his own hands, regardless of what is being called.
“There are times when I’m aggressive and it’s good for us and times I was aggressive and it hurt us,” he said. “In the grand scheme of things, you just have to play what’s being called. I’m an aggressive player and that’s how I made my living, playing in the backfield and splitting double teams.”
Cox made two tackles but did not have a sack.
He has only one of those in seven games.
As a team, the Eagles only hit Raiders quarterback Derek Carr twice. Carr had a field day, becoming the fourth quarterback this season to complete 80 percent of his throws against this defense, going 31-for-34 to join the pantheon of All-World QBs that have come before this year – Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, and Tom Brady.
Cox was asked if he plans on talking to Gannon or his assistants.
“I don’t think it’s my job to talk to the coaches about scheme or anything like that,” he said. “I think that the biggest thing is the coaches. They’re here to coach us. We have to play what’s called. Obviously, as a player, the coaches and all these assistants spend so much time game planning, so you just have to buy into what’s being called.”
Cox sounds like he’s still waiting in line, and may not be ready to buy-in.
“I think anybody being in the league 10 years and playing at a really high level for nine-and-a-half of them, for me it can be frustrated,” he said. “It is frustrating. The biggest thing for me is to stay a pro, stay professional. I have a C (captain) on my jersey, so I have to keep everybody up.”
If it’s any consolation for Cox, it sounds like head coach Nick Sirianni could be having yet another talk with Gannon, one he said he had after the Chiefs put up 42 earlier this year, which came on the heels of the Cowboys scoring 35 points.
“We need to challenge more,” said the coach. “It always starts with us as coaches, being able to put them in position to make plays. We have to call defenses that enable the defenders to challenge more. And then our defenders have to challenge more. When someone is 91 or 92 percent, or whatever it is, everyone has got a piece of it. We just have to challenge more.”
Sirianni was asked if he told Gannon about any potential changes during the game.
“Every product that’s on the field has my name on it,” he said. “I’m able to talk to him during the game and say my peace right there. They’re the ones that are watching the tape all week. I get to watch a little bit of the defensive tape.
"Obviously, I’m doing all my work as the offensive coordinator. So, I’m making suggestions here and there, but they’re the ones that are watching the tape all week.”
Sirianni may want to get more involved on defense, especially now that one of his captains has publicly expressed his displeasure.
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.