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October 11, 2019

Eagles mailbag: Is Fletcher Cox beginning to show signs of life?

Eagles NFL
101019FletcherCox Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Fletcher Cox did some things against the Jets on Sunday.

In our Eagles chat on Wednesday there were a lot of questions that we could not get to in time or other questions we did answer but could use more color. And so, let's do a mailbag post to answer some of the overflow.

Question from Long Cox: I know Fletcher Cox is probably still nursing an injured foot and that he is missing two other DTs, but I can't remember a single play he has made yet this year. Should we be concerned? For what he is making he should be a game changer no matter what.

Jim Schwartz credited Cox for Rodney McLeod's interception on Sunday, which is shown below along with some other plays made by Cox on Sunday by the great Fran Duffy.

Additionally, in viewing some of the sacks the Eagles came away with on Sunday, Cox was often getting doubled, and his DL teammates were benefiting from one-on-one matchups. That shows that opposing offenses are still giving Cox plenty of respect.

I do not believe in the idea that a player should be a game-changer regardless of their ailments, based on what they are being paid. Do you want your highly-paid players to be producing? Obviously, yes. But if a guy has an injured foot, and he's fighting 650 pounds worth of double teams regularly, the stat sheet looks barren and people start saying, "You make a lot of money. Do better." That's not reality. Cox played through an injury that eventually required surgery in the divisional round of the playoffs last year. I don't question his desire to win.

Clearly, Cox has not been the same so far this season, but his game on Sunday was probably his best of the season, and is reason for encouragement. He has a favorable matchup this Sunday in Minnesota against a bad Vikings interior O-Line, and I believe he can build on his progress of a week ago.

Question from LostInChiTown: Rams and Dallas offenses seem to have have taken a step back. Have D-coordinators figured out the "young, genius" coaches? Zeke and Gurley aren't having their normal dominant seasons and Goff and Dak have only carried the team when against really poor competition.

The early Kellen Moore love was comical. Because the Cowboys' offense had been so bland over the last decade or so, people lost their minds when they added in some basic stuff, like pre-snap motion:

OMG they shifted a couple times, sent a guy in motion, and ran a screen! That's not super-complicated stuff, lol. High school teams run that.

Anyway, it's funny to me that the Saints simply went back and watched some old Boise State stuff when Moore was the quarterback there, and picked up some tendencies:  

As for the Rams, while I do not believe that Sean McVay is the second coming of Jesus, I do think he has built a very good offensive scheme in L.A. for which he deserves credit. However, at some point, all offensive schemes get figured out. 

The ones that sustain typically have elite quarterbacks running them, like Drew Brees, Tom Brady, etc., who master the scheme and are able to execute it at a high level, despite opposing defenses understanding what they are trying to do. 

Whether the Rams can continue to be a high-powered offense will depend on whether or not Jared Goff can consistently do the same, and that is in question.

Question from Birdman: Are people jumping the gun a bit on the 49ers? Yes they are undefeated but they beat up on bad teams whose combined record is 5-15 and none of their opponents have a winning record.

On the one hand, I do believe they will start convincing more people (self included) if they start beating some good teams. On the other hand, I think back to the 2017 Eagles, who beat a string of pretty crappy opponents in their mid-season run.

The Eagles had their naysayers at the time, which I personally thought was silly, given that the Eagles were smashing everyone they played. The Eagles' point differential after their first 11 games that season was +160. Through their first four games, the Niners are on a similar point differential pace, at +70. Obviously, the Eagles have the bigger sample size in this comparison. To be determined if the Niners can keep doing in 2019 what the Eagles did in 2017. We'll see.

Comment from Vizzini: The Niners will not keep Jordan Matthews on for 10 games. Count on that. They can release and add him as much as needed because he won't get picked up by anyone else.

I'm confused on why they would want to release and sign him repeatedly. They placed Jalen Hurd on IR, and signed Matthews to replace him. If/when Hurd comes back, which won't be for at least the 8 weeks he is required to be on IR, they may very well cut Matthews if they don't experience additional injuries at WR. But why would they cut him before then unless some other better answer came along?

Anyway, I think that where you're going with this is that the Niners are going to make sure he isn't on their roster for 10 games so that they don't lose any compensatory picks? If so, please note that they aren't getting any compensatory picks either way, so they won't cut him for that purpose.

Question from SPQR13: Jimmy, excluding Wentz, which players (if any) on this team could get you at least one 1st round draft pick in a trade and would you do it?

I wouldn't be looking to trade anyone with that kind of value, because I think this team is a Super Bowl contender in what is shaping up to be a rather pedestrian NFC.

That said, the players who are worth at least a first-round pick, factoring in age/contract/etc., in my view, are Wentz, Cox, Lane Johnson, Andre Dillard, and maybe Zach Ertz. I'm also torn on Dallas Goedert and Derek Barnett. I'm guessing many will disagree on Barnett even being in that conversation. 

I think this question/answer yet again highlights their lack of young talent.

Question from sctheotter: I've said several times that I feel like part of the reason for the less than optimal performance against the Jets was because Doug was trying to not expose his best strategies when he knew he didn't have to against a lowly team, as to save them for what's ahead. Do you think the same, that they were trying to save their best football for this stretch when they know it'll be needed?

I answered this in the chat briefly, but I think it's worth noting here as well. I don't think the Eagles' offensive staff looked at this matchup during the week and said, "We can easily beat these guys, so let's not show anything." I think they game-planned for them like they would any other team. 

However, the Eagles were up 14-0 after 10 minutes and 21-0 at the half. Once they got a lead that the Jets had no chance of eradicating, yes, I believe at that point, whenever that was in Doug's mind, they went vanilla. If I were Doug, I certainly wouldn't have wasted any creative looks I had up my sleeve in the second half of that game.

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