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Fletcher Cox: Defense Must Start Fast And Finish Strong


Fletcher Cox sweated profusely during his press conference Wednesday afternoon. The reporters weren't drilling him with hard-nosed questions but it was the actual heat coming from the myriad of lights and cameras that were in the media room causing the 6-4, 310-pounder to constantly wipe the sweat from his brow.

At one point, he threatened to make an exit.

"Thank you, that light's hot," Cox laughed when the beam went out. "I'm soaked up here."

Fortunately for the Eagles, the bright lights on the field have never been an issue for the All-Pro defensive tackle as he readies for the NFL's biggest stage. After outplaying what was considered the NFL's No. 1 defense in the Vikings, Cox emphasized the defense playing with that same vigor will be a necessity against New England.

They'll need to put forth a full effort considering the seeming regularity of Tom Brady's late-game heroics. Cox still remembers the 35-28 victory the Eagles squeaked out of Gillette Stadium in 2015 after going up 35-14 with 11 minutes remaining in the contest.

"You can't just play three quarters because we went down there I think 2015 and they still almost came back and won the game," he said. "That'll let you know that you've got to go and play 60 minutes. What makes them so unique is he (Tom Brady) gets rid of the ball fast. He's not going to take a lot of hits. He knows where he's going when the ball is snapped.

"As I say every week, it's going to come down to the front four guys getting after the quarterback making him uncomfortable in the pocket."

Aware of Cox's ability to crowd the pocket, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick heaped high praise on the defensive playmaker earlier this week saying he's as "good as anybody body in the league at his position." Cox was enamored by the statement.

"It's a lot of respect from a coach like Belichick. A guy that's been around, a guy that's seen a lot of great players in this league. For him to say that that means I obviously must be doing something right," Cox said. "But at the same time, I've got three other guys besides me that's helping me push that limit, that's helping me get that recognition and I want to do the same thing for those guys."

The depth along the frontline which has worked tremendously all season long must continue to hold especially during the beginning of games. During these playoffs, Philadelphia gave up 10 points on opening drives and just seven points throughout the remainder of the game. There's a great importance in not falling behind early defensively as the Patriots' offense averaged the second-most first-half points (16.8) during the regular season.

"Teams make plays and Minnesota they came out and drove the ball down the field, they did a great job at it. But also I actually go back and look at that and we missed a lot of tackles. We can't do that going forward, including myself. I think I missed two tackles on that drive. I had a breakdown that drive," Cox said.

"I think emotions took over that first drive of the game and I think once guys settled in and knew, 'Hey, it's the next game guys.' Let's go, let's settle down. Let's play our defense. Let's not beat ourselves and they did that."

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