Philadelphia Eagles News

Michael Bennett Delivers High Praise For Fletcher Cox

On a third-and-8 play at midfield halfway through the first quarter, the Eagles brought the heat against Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans' offense.

A few Eagles got through the line, but it was defensive lineman Michael Bennett who grabbed Mariota by his chest and ripped him right to the ground for his first sack as a Philadelphia Eagle.

Bennett had barely gotten back up by the time defensive tackle Fletcher Cox came up to him, high-fived him furiously, and led him in a rodeo-style lasso celebration. Bennett had contributed on a deep defensive line all season but now he was on the board.

"Yeah, it's always nice to get a sack," Bennett told reporters at his locker on Thursday. "You come to a new team and you want to be able to find a way to contribute in a positive way and I think getting a sack and making a big play on defense is something that has an impact on your team and can help the defense keep fueling the fire to make the plays."

It was only fitting that Cox, who has three sacks and 25 quarterback pressures and hits himself so far, was the first person to come up to Bennett after the sack and celebrate. Bennett still has no idea what the celebration was – "You have to ask Fletch," he said – but he has a lot of respect for his new teammate and Cox's style of play.

"I think Fletch is one of the best defensive players I ever played with," Bennett said. "And that's a compliment because I've played with a lot of good defensive players over the years, but I think Fletcher is one of the best inside rushers and just one of the best players. I told him that today.

"I appreciate the way Fletch plays the game every single play. Whether it's run game or chasing the ball, he does something that most defensive tackles don't really do in the NFL. You watch a lot of other players that get a lot of hype, they don't really hustle the way that Fletch does. I think Fletch is just a good player and the opportunity to play with him is always a blessing."

That's high praise coming from someone who played with Seattle's "Legion of Boom" defense that led the way to a Super Bowl Championship and back-to-back NFC titles. Bennett knew that playing with a deep, rotating defensive line with proven veterans would mean fewer individual stats than he was used to in Seattle.

But Bennett said he is enjoying playing with experienced, talented rushers even if he is off the field more often.

"At the end of the day, I just want to win, and things will just fall into place as they will, but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you have 10 sacks or 20 sacks or if you lose them, it doesn't matter," Bennett said. "It's about winning, and I think that's the most important thing for this team, to win. I think we have a lot of talent on this team and people's expectations are high, so we need to rise to the expectations and I think we will."

Rising to expectations would start with a win this week against the Minnesota Vikings. Bennett said the Vikings are a team that has struggled running the ball, forcing the offense to be one-dimensional and creating second and third downs with long yardage that lend themselves to sacks.

Bennett wants to continue to slow down the run on Sunday. Then, the Eagles will have to take on talented wide receivers and a quarterback he respects in Kirk Cousins. Sunday won't be easy for the defense.

"He's so cerebral," Bennett said. "I think Kirk does a great job at seeing what the defense is doing and finding checkdowns and getting his offense in the right position. To me, he's one of the toughest quarterbacks because he takes a lot of hits, but he always gets back up and he finds a way to make those throws, so I think that's the hardest part about playing Kirk Cousins."

The Eagles know they will get the Vikings' best shot on Sunday, just as they have gotten the best effort from teams in their first four games. Bennett's presence is helpful on this team as someone who has played a season as a defending champion and even got back to the Super Bowl that year.

All week, the team has reiterated head coach Doug Pederson's point that the sky is not falling as the Eagles sit with a 2-2 record. Bennett believes that too and emphasized the importance of staying together as a team throughout adversity.

"You're coming off of championship football, there's a lot of expectations," Bennett said. "You've just got to be able to continuously stick to the process and trust the people around because at the end of the day, people are going to make bad plays and either they're going to go down or going to go up and the only way they go up is if their teammates build them up. And I think it's important that we continuously build our teammates up and no matter what the situation is, so we can rise to the occasion."

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