Back in the summer I wrote a lengthy post about the Eagles pass rush. Much to the chagrin of most Eagles fans the Eagles were unable to acquire a dominant edge rusher in the offseason. The pass rush was a concern for a big portion of the season and the age of Trent Cole and the apparent miscasting of Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham in a 3-4 had them as frequent subjects of trade talks. How could Chip and Howie not do whatever it takes to acquire that elite edge rusher? Quite possibly, because Billy Davis felt he had the pieces to make his scheme work.
I was pretty crticial of Fletcher Cox in that post mostly because Billy Davis system schemes pretty well to get that 3-technique DE plenty of one-on-one opportunities against offensive guards. Contrary to many 3-4 defenses, Billy Davis' defenses have traditionally had the premier pass rusher playing DE in the 3-4 often as a 3 or 4 technique. As I highlighted in that post, Fletcher just was not making the most of those one-on-one opportunities. In a follow-up post a few weeks back I showed how both Cox and the rest of the defensive line we're really starting to come into their own in Billy's scheme. I happy to report that the progress we saw there is still continuing and Fletcher Cox is also start to notch the stats to support his Pro Bowl level play this year.
Check out the alignment below. Here Bennie Logan is shaded over the Center. Fletcher Cox is actually in a 4i-technique with Trent Cole lined up in the Wide 9. This alignment ensures that Fletcher Cox and Trent Cole are going to get favorable one-on-one pass rushing opportunities:
As we roll the tape, you'll see the scheme come to fruition:
Cox beats his one-on-one:
and closes on Romo for the sack:
Here again is Fletcher Cox lined up in the 4i technique with Trent Cole out wide and Bennie Logan occupying the Center:
Cox beats 66 off the snap:
and finishes with a sack on Newton:
We we know, Billy and Azzinaro love to rotate their DL They have been doing this well all year and have also done a good job of putting their best pass rushers in the same position as Cox above to make plays. Here you see Brandon Graham playing the 4i technique with Barwin occupying the LT out wide and Logan occupying the C:
This is Brandon Graham against an offensive guard. Obvious mismatch inside:
Graham tosses the guard to the ground:
and closes for the sack:
Thanks to @SheilKapadia, this is what it looked like:
This time it's Trent Cole in the 4-technique. Barwin is at the Wide-9 and Logan occupying the Center. Again Trent Cole is going to get a one-on-one against the offensive guard inside:
And of course, as a result of these types of alignments and the pressure the Eagles are generating from the inside, it really opens up opportunitie for the edge rusher. With Brandon Graham at the 3-technique, Connor Barwin will get a one-on-one against Taylor Lewan:
And schools him with a sweet spin move:
Also note the pressure Cox gets up front from the NT position as he drives the center back and Mettenberger cannot step up:
We'll finish where we started by highlighting one of the many plays this season that Fletcher Cox won't show up on the stat sheet for. The Eagles are playing a 4-3 wide 9 alginment here. Check the wide splits with no DL over Center. When we present this look, we often either bring or at least threaten the A gap blitz with a LB. In this case it is Kendricks. This will occupy the Center and give Cox, Cole, Curry and Graham all one-on-one matchups along the line. Here Cox is playing the 3-technique with Cole out wide:
Cox explodes off the snap and drives his man backwards. Because of this dominant rush, the LT has to shift to help Cox:
and Cole blows by him for a sack on the outside:
Cole gets the sack, but Fletcher Cox deserves the credit on this one.