The Saints Targeted Fletcher Cox On Taysom Hill's Fake Punt, Though I Highly Doubt Anyone Would Have Stopped Him Anyway
Some people are going to shame Fletcher Cox for taking the NFL equivalent of a smoke break while on the punt return team. For a multitude of reasons, I won't be one of them.
First of all, the Eagles' stud defensive lineman was hurt on the play (potentially due to not being fully prepared to get bulldozed by three blockers and ball-carrying battering ram), and I don't think the recipe for the fat 'L' he took calls for the addition of any more salt to the wound.
Secondly, I'm pretty sure the success of every fake punt in the history of fake punts has been dependent on the receiving team treating it like an actual punt, and I have a hard time believing that you'll find too many star players risking injury (yes, I see the irony) by busting their balls on every run-of-the-mill change of possession.
Lastly, even if this particular one did, Fletcher Cox would need cement feet and about 6 extra thighs to have held his ground strongly enough to bear the brunt of the bowling ball that is Taysom Hill and his brigade of blockers. Fact is, I saw that play coming from a mile away, due to both the score at the time and how unstoppable it seemed. Credit to Sean Payton for dissecting every tenth of a second of film to ensure its success, but it would be silly to act as if the Saints' Swiss army knife absolutely needed the help of a defensive player who was going through the motions to carve out a single yard of space for himself. If Taysom Hill slipped on the stairs he probably be two flights up by the time he completed his fall. Therefore, while I'm glad he wasn't, I'm calling bullshit on Fletcher Cox being able to prevent that momentum-swinging conversion even if he was fully engaged.