Fletcher Cox was one of the main reasons Malik Johnson chose to come to the Philadelphia Eagles, just for the opportunity to play next to one of the game’s best interior defenders. Jackson is striving to become one of the game’s best defensive tackles again, but that won’t be his role on the Eagles.
He’s on the interior to make sure Cox doesn’t get double teamed, creating the best front four in the NFL once again.
“I wanted to go somewhere where there was a good defensive line,” Jackson said Wednesday. “I want to get back to where I know I can be. To do that, I need a good defensive line around me. To come in here with (Derek) Barnett and (Brandon) Graham and Fletcher, I mean, hell, I don’t think there’s a better D-line in the league.’
“That Pro Bowl wasn’t a hiccup. That’s who I am. I want to get back to that. Having Fletcher next to me will push me, like Calais (Campbell) did in Jacksonville. Fletcher is exactly who I want to be. A four-time Pro Bowler. An All Pro. A future Hall of Famer.
“Hell, the example is right there in front of my face.”
There’s no denying how great Cox has been in his seven seasons in Philadelphia, especially since last season was his best in the NFL.
Cox earned his fourth All-Pro selection in five years, but his first on the First Team. Cox was a force at defensive tackle, finishing with 95 pressures, 60 hurries, 34 quarterback hits, 10.5 sacks, 46 tackles, 30 stops, and 12 tackles for loss. The 95 pressures were a career-high, shattering his previous high of 77 in 2015. Cox also had a career-high in quarterback hits, with his previous high being 20 in 2015.
Cox earned his fourth Pro Bowl selection, moving into second place for most Pro Bowls by a defensive lineman in Eagles history. Cox now only trails Reggie White, who has seven Pro Bowl selections in eight years with the Eagles. He was ranked the No. 2 interior defender by Pro Football Focus in 2018.
Add Malik Jackson next to Cox and those numbers could be even better.
“With Fletcher Cox next to me, it’s going to allow me to have more one-on-one rushes,” Jackson said. “Fletcher is a force to be reckoned with. He demands double-teams.
“Hopefully, I can come in here and do what I’m supposed to do and take the double-teams off of him. Hopefully, it’ll go hand in hand.”
The Eagles are hoping to get out of Jackson what they thought they were going to receive from Tim Jernigan. Coz may be even better in 2019.