Jim Schwartz took his analogy to the baseball diamond on Thursday morning.
“If you get a baseball player that hits a bunch of home runs, well, pitchers are going to find a way to get him out,” the Eagles’ defensive coordinator said.
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Fletcher Cox hit a lot of home runs.
During the first month of the season, Cox looked like he was certainly going to live up to the six-year, $103 million contract he signed during the offseason.
In the first four games of the season, Cox had four sacks. In the four games since, he has zero.
“I think I gotta be better,” Cox said. “I think the main this is, I had a few chances last week, chances in previous weeks, but I just have to get there. It's just a thing that I got them early and now I like hit a wall. I think that I'll be alright. I know I'll be alright. Just gotta keep pushing and put myself in position to get there.”
Cox ought to get a boost this week with Bennie Logan’s expected return (see story). Logan has missed the last three games with a groin injury, which has allowed offenses to pay more attention to Cox, who say Beau Allen played well and didn’t want to use Logan’s absence as an excuse.
The Eagles have seen a pretty clear uptick in the number of double-teams Cox has faced this season. For many years, Cox was a pretty undervalued player in the league. Now, he has a big contract, a Pro Bowl appearance and the double-teams that follow.
“Yeah, it just comes with it,” Cox said. “I just have to embrace it and find a way to get to the quarterback. At this point right now, the most important thing to me is winning a football game. The sacks, the numbers, all that stuff, I don't really get caught up into it because those things will come.”
While Cox hasn’t hit home runs recently, he’s hit plenty of singles.
Schwartz praised him for his play against the run in the Giants game. The Giants’ running backs averaged just over 2.6 yards per carry on Sunday. Cox was a big part of that, making “some dynamic plays against the run,” according to Schwartz.
Still, the Eagles’ defense is predicated on getting to the quarterback with its four-man rush. The Eagles had 14 sacks in the first four games and just nine in the last four, which means it’s not just Cox who isn’t getting to the quarterback.
But if the Eagles did get their best defensive player giving them sacks, it would go a long way. He just needs to work around all the attention he’s been getting and find his power stroke again.
“I think Fletch has to deal with that,” Schwartz said. “When you’re a dynamic pass-rusher, when you can make an impact, offensive line coaches are going to start to game plan with No. 91, offensive coordinators are going to do it. I think you just have to keep on going and know that there’s other ways that you can contribute. But we certainly rely on Fletch to make a lot of plays for us and he’s played well, even though his numbers haven’t been as eye-popping as they were in the first month of the year.”