Legend status, personal accolades, and the Philly Special!
On Tuesday Eagles center Jason Kelce, quarterback Nick Foles and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox met with the media ahead of the 2018 NFL Draft to discuss the offseason and how their perspectives on the game and their career have changed since winning the Super Bowl. Here are a few observations based on what they had to say.
Kelce was asked about becoming a legendary figure in the city following a subpar campaign in 2016, where his size was a hindrance at times. Kelce noted that he heard the noise and his performance wasn't lost on him. He began to question himself and whether he was good enough and what was going on. He pointed out that the criticisms weren’t unwarranted as he struggled especially at the beginning of the year when facing bigger defensive tackles such as Danny Shelton (Browns) and Eddie Goldman (Bears). He credited offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland with helping him get his technique back in line. He thought about it too much and lost track of his basic fundamentals. The confidence that the team and the front office showed in him meant a lot and mentally helped him as well. This is one of the top takeaways because there was a lot of noise about whether or not Kelce was going to be cut or traded with his cap number. He bounced back in 2017, earning all-pro honors while playing at highest level of his career.
Another focal point of the presser was Kelce’s parade comments. He mentioned that not too much has changed, but his first seven years with the team fans would come up to him and ask him to get that one championship. Everything he said was genuine, not that anybody had to question it. It led to wedding requests, requests for public speaking and led to more interaction with other franchises in the city. He’s taken the time to listen to fans in public that have been season ticket holders for years. Kelce understands what the championship means to the city.
Much like Kelce, Fletcher Cox understands that there’s always room for improvement. He said he noticed some technique things on tape that he wants to improve on this season.
Cox was asked about no longer playing with Vinny Curry and Beau Allen who both found their way to Tampa Bay this offseason. He mentioned it would be different, but also pointed to losing Bennie Logan last offseason and acquiring Timmy Jernigan. The Timmy Jernigan signing worked out for both parties as Cox had one of his best years to date with Jernigan adding a pass rushing dimension that Logan never did and Jernigan cashed in. He noted that perhaps the biggest change is building chemistry with the newer players and getting them up to date with what the team prefers to do.
Not only is Cox a celebrity in Philadelphia, he’s also a celebrity in his hometown, Yazoo City, Mississippi. The folks in Yazoo City named the longest street in the town after him, Fletcher Cox road. They should’ve honored both Cox and Chris Long, naming it Long Cox road.
Cox was asked about the new tackling rules, and he didn’t have much of a thought on them, but noted all players have to follow them and they’re there for a reason. For what it’s worth, it will be interesting to see how many defensive linemen get flagged this season.
Cox finished his presser by being upfront about a personal accolade he’d like to secure, Defensive Player of the Year. Cox has been to multiple Pro Bowls and recently won a Super Bowl (With the Eagles, who are the Super Bowl Champions) so it only makes sense he wants to be DPOY. With all of the talent along the defensive line that can help create opportunities, it’s not farfetched to believe it could happen considering the reigning DPOY, Aaron Donald, is also a defensive tackle.
Foles recently had his contact restructured, rewarding him for his postseason. He was complimentary of Brandon Brooks, who restructured his contract to free up cap room for Foles. It says a lot about the continuity and chemistry of the team that a player would help restructure his contract to make sure a backup quarterback is paid for his contributions. Foles isn’t just any backup, he’s a Super Bowl MVP, but the gesture was not lost on Foles.
Speaking of the restructure, Foles was asked about going from Super Bowl MVP to backup, but noted that he’s in a special situation. He wants to be a starter but he recognizes what the Eagles have built and wants to be apart of it. I’m sure the restructure doesn’t hurt as well, as he mentioned it’s a good contract that really protects him. Sometimes the chemistry of a locker room and success can smooth a guy over when it comes to his role. Good for Nick.
Speaking of chemistry in a locker room and organization, Foles mentioned that his relationship with GM Howie Roseman played a role in him coming to Philly and he feels taken care of. The open line of communication has meant a lot to Foles, who suggested you don’t have that everywhere in the NFL.
Aside from his love and appreciation for the Eagles, Foles expressed both sentiments toward Philadelphia. He was proud of what Villanova and the Sixers have accomplished and mentioned he’s in no hurry to leave the city because he genuinely enjoys it.
Foles went deeper into the Philly Special and why he suggested it. He mentioned he wanted to run it and the situation which it was planned for presented itself, and a gut feeling led him to suggest it. He complimented Doug Pederson on trusting him and rolling with the play call. Now it’s the greatest play ever.
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