Philadelphia Eagles News

The Read-Option: Cox's Career Year


Happy Wednesday, Eagles fans! We are halfway through the week, which means we're that much closer to Sunday's game against Arizona. For all the latest on the matchup, take a look at the December 16th edition of the Read-Option ...

Ertz: It's A Three-Game Season - Alex Smith

"Zach Ertz was set back before the regular season began thanks to a core muscle injury. Surgery forced him to miss all four of the Eagles' preseason games, and he's been playing catch-up ever since. By early October, however, Ertz hit his stride, going on a streak of five weeks with at least four catches. Then he suffered a concussion that forced him to miss virtually two games, but just as he was able to do earlier in the season, Ertz bounced back again. He put up his best performance of the year against Buffalo, catching five passes for 98 yards, including a 41-yard catch-and-run that set up the game-winning field goal.

Sunday's game was the latest entry in Ertz's self-titled 'roller coaster' season.

'I had the surgery early on and then the concussion, but at the same time, as a team we're right where we want to be,' Ertz said. 'We have three games left with an unbelievable opportunity to win the division and that's all you can ask for.

'I think we had four or five games in a row where I had five catches and (three games with) 60-plus yards. I think I had three touchdowns total, but two of them were called back, unfortunately. I think Sam (Bradford) and I are building that confidence in each other and it's only going to continue to grow.'

Ertz isn't the only player who is developing a budding chemistry with Bradford. Over the past few days, multiple players have commented on Bradford's ability to rally the troops before each of the last two games after coming back from a concussion and shoulder injury.

'I think he kind of came back with more of a leadership mentality,' Ertz said. 'He's kind of taken the whole team at the beginning of the game and said a few words to the whole team and kind of got everyone going, and I think that's taken the team a long way in the past two games.'"

Tweet Of The Day

The Eagles hit the practice field hard after their win against the Bills, and began preparing for Sunday Night Football. View the full gallery here...

Arizona Receivers A Tough Task - Julie Bacanskas

"This season, the Cardinals rank first in the league with 59 passes of 20 yards or more. Ten of those resulted in touchdowns. Nevertheless, with weapons like Brown, Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, those numbers are not a surprise. The three receivers alone account for 2,635 of Arizona's 4,019 receiving yards and 18 of its 31 receiving touchdowns on the year.

'You can't really double-team anybody on their team,' Jenkins said. 'They've got three or four solid receivers and a really good tight end and they do some good things with their backs as well. Floyd on the outside, Brown is a speedy guy, and we know all about him from last year, and then Larry is having one of those career years in the slot.  Everybody's got to win their matchup. You can't roll the help to one guy because all the other guys are more than capable of winning.'

In his 12th NFL season, Fitzgerald is posting big-time numbers in the slot. He leads the Cardinals with 1,088 receiving yards, which also places him as the No. 7 receiver in the league.

Jenkins is preparing to go up against Fitzgerald and even called him the "most-decorated slot receiver" he'll face this season. The safety, however, has experience going head-to-head with Fitzgerald and is more than ready to go around round on Sunday.

'I know him personally and I know how hard he works and what he's been doing in this league for a long time,' Jenkins said. 'He's a smart guy. He's savvy. He knows the position. You put him in the slot, he's a good route runner, which is what you need to be in there.

'He's savvy enough to find the soft spot in zone, and he's smart enough to read defenses as well. He does all the dirty work, too. He blocks willingly and does it really well. He's an all-around good receiver. That's why he's been one of the best in this league for a really long time.'"

Canadian Magic

Other Views

Pro Bowl For Fletcher Cox? - Les Bowen, Daily News

"Cox dominated Sunday's 23-20 victory over the Bills. If you'd held a vote afterward among the 92 active players from both teams, Cox would have won "best player on the field" honors, an accomplishment for a 3-4 defensive end, who often sets up plays for others. (Cox noted Tuesday that he's now listed as a d-tackle for Pro Bowl purposes, meaning he isn't competing with pass-rush specialist 4-3 ends for a berth.)

'Fletcher's a very well-rounded defensive lineman,' defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. 'He can give you a good two-gap (reading and reacting) and hold the point on a double team. He can convert the run into a pass rush real easy. Then when it's just the flat-out pass rush, he's got a couple of nice inside moves. He's giving people fits, and hopefully, he'll get the Pro Bowl recognition he deserves.'

Cox is tied for the team lead with 6 1/2 sacks, along with outside linebacker Brandon Graham.

'I think I can do better,' Cox said, when asked whether he's playing the best he has played since coming to the team as the 12th overall pick in 2012. 'I'm really, really hard on myself . . . Right now, I think I'm playing consistent football. I watch film, you watch film, you see the games . . . I leave a lot of sacks on the field.'"

Bradford's Growth - Josh Paunil, Birds 24/7

"Pat Shurmur seemed as though he wanted to get something off of his chest. The normally hushed offensive coordinator was asked about his quarterback's pocket movement to open his press conference yesterday, and he responded with a 171-word breakdown of Sam Bradford, without really addressing footwork.

'His overall play has improved each week,' Shurmur said. 'I certainly expected it. I'm starting to see the things in him that I remember seeing when he was a rookie. It takes a while to come back from what he went through (tearing his ACL twice), and he's getting more and more used to the way we're doing things.

'Certainly, it was easy to connect the dots when he first got here, and he was very well aware of what we try to do offensively. But it just takes a little bit of time. Much like an offensive line working together, the quarterback with everything that he has on his plate along with getting himself really physically ready to handle it all, it just kind of takes a little bit of time. I think we didn't know what to expect as we moved along.

'Certainly, expectations are high whenever you're talking about an NFL football team and an NFL football player. But we just saw him getting better each day, and I think it's showing on Sunday.'

Whether you look at the film, stats or another barometer of Bradford's play, it's clear he's trending upward. The Eagles are 5-1 in the last six games Bradford has started and finished and 6-2 in the last eight. Over his last four starts, Bradford has completed 80 of 123 passes (65.0%) for 898 yards, five touchdowns, one interception and a 96.9 rating."

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