PHILADELPHIA – As he approaches the last decade mark in the National Football League, Fletcher Cox has skilled nearly each excessive and low that professional soccer has to supply.
The Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman is aware of all too properly the accuracy of the previous adage, “The only constant is change.”
Cox is on head coach No. 5, defensive coordinator No. 4 and beginning quarterback No. 6 as his Eagles this offseason – simply 4 years after hoisting the Lombardi Trophy – abruptly hit the reset button following an injury-plagued 4-11-1 marketing campaign, firing coach Doug Pederson and buying and selling away passer Carson Wentz.
Only seven different gamers from that underdog Super Bowl-champion roster stay.
But No. 91 remains to be right here, nonetheless anchoring a defensive position that for therefore lengthy has served as the center and soul of the team.
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Youth and inexperience abounds nearly all over the place else on this Eagles squad. Nick Sirianni, 40, has by no means served as a head coach on any stage. And a number of of his assistants are even youthful than he’s.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts has began solely 4 video games and stays a undertaking, and none of his receivers have greater than three seasons below their belts. And the youth motion doesn’t cease there.
So, the way in which Cox sees it, whereas the opposite models get caught on top of things round him, the Eagles’ success hinges on his tone-setting defensive position.
“(Eagles owner) Mr. (Jeffrey) Lurie has always built the team around the D-linemen and expects us to take over,” Cox instructed USA TODAY Sports. “If we’re good, the team is good.”
It’s some extent of delight for Cox, 30, a six-time Pro Bowl choice who stays simply as hungry for fulfillment with this present squad as he was in pursuit of his first ring.
“Absolutely. It’s going to start up front because that room has the most experience,” Cox mentioned. “You’ve got a lot of guys in that room that have played a lot of ball. Myself, and Derek Barnett, (free-agent signing Ryan) Kerrigan, Brandon Graham, Javon Hargrave. We’ve all played a lot of ball and seen a lot of things, and we just all have to stick together. … Maintain that chip on our shoulders.”
Cox believes profitable in the trenches will place the linebackers and secondary for fulfillment. A disruptive protection will in flip ease stress on Hurts and the offense by giving them extra possessions and shorter fields to work with.
He has seen it work earlier than, when the 2017 Philly protection ranked top-five in virtually each main statistical class. The unit carried the team to the playoffs regardless of Wentz’s late, season-ending knee harm, with the Eagles finally happening to upset Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s feared New England Patriots.
Sirianni has restricted expertise, however so too did Pederson, who guided the Eagles to the Super Bowl win in Year 2.
Although just a few days into coaching camp, Sirianni is making a robust impression on his veterans and rapidly profitable them over. A high-energy coach with sturdy communication and other people abilities, Sirianni has displayed a capability to attach with members of the group from high to backside.
“You have to understand his train of thought and his goals and understand that he’s out here coaching,” Cox mentioned. “It’s understanding, whether he’s a first-year head coach or a 15-year head coach, he has his ways of how he wants things done and everybody getting on the same page.”
Cox is conscious that some gamers of his standing would have discovered a role in a rebuilding undertaking unappealing. But moderately than attempt to power his method out of the group and onto a contender, the 2012 first-round choose noticed worth in loyalty.
“It’s my 10th year, and I’m blessed to be able to play for the same organization in this league for 10 years,” Cox mentioned whereas sitting below a shade tree in entrance of Eagles headquarters – the one place he has known as dwelling in the NFL. “The commitment – I have to understand, they drafted me, they’ve put a lot of time in me, they gave me contracts, and so, the biggest thing for me is staying here, is being committed not only to the guys upstairs, but my teammates.
“It’s just knowing who you are,” he continued. “It’s basically about being a pro in everything and how you approach it, and really, that’s what I’ve done the whole entire time I’ve been here. You have to treat people the way you want to be treated. It doesn’t matter if it’s the media, the people that take care of you, who always have your back, our media team, community relations, the janitor, the cafeteria workers, appreciating everybody. And not getting upset. Letting the little things go.”
Cox’s dedication to excellence has all the time had a ripple impact inside the Eagles’ locker room, and his management and perception in the potential of his teammates and coaches is probably extra necessary now than ever.
“Bunch of young guys that need to grow up fast. I’m excited about it,” Cox mentioned. “I’m excited about the new coaching staff, and you just approach it as, ‘Hey, man. You come here and there are 32 teams in the NFL with the same goal.’ The thing is, can this team stay focused enough? And I think we can, to reach that goal.”