Dallas Cowboys’ Public Enemy: Fletcher Cox

–Nathan Jones–
The Cowboys’ offense has yet to show any signs of constancy through 9 weeks. The Cowboys head up to Philadelphia to play a heated rivalry game. Sitting at a record at 3-5, this is a must win. The key to the Cowboys’ offensive success is to run the ball well and to make chunk plays downfield.

Besides the Eagles’ safety, Malcolm Jenkins, their secondary is not presenting any great threat. However, the Eagles do possess a  solid defensive line– starting with Fletcher Cox.

The 3-time pro-bowler defensive tackle is in his 7th season with Philadelphia. The seasoned veteran is no doubt the best player on their defense. Cowboys fans should be rather familiar with Cox since he is always having highlight plays against Dallas.

But what makes Cox so special, is his versatility and strength.

Cox lines up all across the defensive line. He plays the 3 technique (between the guard and tackle), 1- technique (between the guard and center), as well as the nose (over the center). His capability to play across the line creates all sorts of problems for the run and the pass. Cox’s athleticism allows him to run various stunts such as twists, slants, etc. But also Cox has the strength to just straight up bull rush and pile-drive offensive linemen. Notice the power of Fletcher Cox (#91) on this play where he fights off the double team with good leverage and strength:

If the Cowboys stand a chance against the Eagles, Fletcher Cox has to be shut down. There is no clear-cut solution, but the best strategy would be to run outside zones away from Cox. Ezekiel Elliott has shown to be dominant on this run in the past. The outside zone fits Zeke perfectly because if he has the speed and the seal block on the outside, he can easily get to the edge and turn upfield. And if the edge is not sealed by the tackles, tight ends, or whatnot, he can cut back– provided the guards execute their zone block to play side.

The Eagles average giving up only 83 yards on the ground (2nd in the league). To wear out the defensive line and the linebackers, the Cowboys should run even more zone reads/ read option plays with Dak Prescott. Last week against the Titans, Dak only scrambled for yards. There were no designed runs or reads. That has to change.

The Cowboys have lacked creativity thus far, but against a NFC East rival, in Prime-Time, with Garret’s and Linehan’s jobs on the line, the playbook is wide open.

fletcher cox tackle picture

 

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