Pro Bowl, here comes Eagles' Fletcher Cox
SELECTIONS FOR the Pro Bowl will be announced Dec. 22, and the Eagles probably won't dominate the process. In fact, defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, egregiously neglected last year, looks to be their only lock.
SELECTIONS FOR the Pro Bowl will be announced Dec. 22, and the Eagles probably won't dominate the process.
In fact, defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, egregiously neglected last year, looks to be their only lock. After Cox, maybe safety Malcolm Jenkins gets some love. Punter Donnie Jones probably should go, but probably won't, since his best talent is subtle, being able to drop the ball inside the 20. Outside linebacker Connor Barwin is playing as well as he did last season, when he made it, but Barwin doesn't have the gaudy sack numbers this time, and the Eagles don't have as good a record.
Don't even bother to list any possible candidates from the Eagles' offense. Maybe Darren Sproles makes it again as a returner.
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."
Cox got the Eagles' only sack of Tyrod Taylor on Sunday, but he said he should have had another: "I let him slip out of my arms."
In the fourth quarter, Cox blew past guard Richie Incognito and upended former teammate LeSean McCoy for a 10-yard loss. He said he didn't time the snap count.
"I just saw the ball and went in and made a play," he said.
Pat Shurmur seemed to be enjoying his weekly get-together with reporters Tuesday, the early questioning concerning the settling in of quarterback Sam Bradford, Shurmur's pupil when the offensive coordinator worked for the Rams in Bradford's rookie year of 2010.
But eventually, reporters wanted to know what's up with the running backs, and the unannounced but obvious decision over the past two games to go away from DeMarco Murray as the starter and primary ballcarrier.
"OK. We're on the backs again," Shurmur observed, without a lot of enthusiasm.
"Well, we have what we think to be four really good running backs. So we want to use them all," Shurmur said. "I think if you put a really good player in the game, and he's fresher as you go, then you get a little bit more out of him. When you have a featured back . . . then that guy takes a lot of pounding and a lot of wear and tear."
Is Shurmur disappointed that Murray, the defending NFL rushing champion, signed to a five-year, $40 million contract, isn't clearly his best back?
"Why are we going to make that judgment?" Shurmur asked. "Are we going to base it on how much the player's making, how much he plays? Really, we're just trying to win football games, and we want to put fresh running backs in the game . . . We don't try to match the expectations outside the building. We just go put them out there, train them up and let them play."
Tuesday is a light practice day, for which the Eagles don't have to provide an injury report, but wide receiver Jordan Matthews, guards Allen Barbre and Matt Tobin and cornerback Byron Maxwell didn't practice, and Maxwell didn't watch from the sideline, as the others did. Matthews said the back problem that surfaced late last week was bothering him. Pat Shurmur called Matthews' effort in playing Sunday "courageous." . . . In last year's 24-20 loss at Arizona, the Eagles gained 521 yards. Jeremy Maclin (remember him?) caught a dozen passes for 187.
On Twitter: @LesBowen