All across the NFL, teams are constantly facing off against the former players thanks to free agency and trades. On Thursday, the Miami Dolphins will have that situation with players like defensive end Derrick Shelby, who with the Atlanta Falcons this year as a free agent after four years with Miami. The team also has former Dolphins tight end Arthur Lynch and linebacker Phillip Wheeler.
But it is another former Dolphins player who is on the Falcons who is maybe the most intriguing. In the fifth round of the 1991 NFL Draft, the Dolphins selected Western Illinois’ Bryan Cox. He immediately become the team’s starting outside linebacker, ultimately moving to middle linebacker during his five seasons with Miami, during which he started 77 games, missing just three contests his rookie year from being a perfect 80 starts in 80 possible games. He tallied 529 tackles in his Dolphins career, with 31.5 sacks, three interceptions, 14 forced fumbles, and six fumble recoveries with one touchdown. He earned three Pro Bowl appearances in Miami, as well as being a 1992 First-Team All-Pro selection.
Cox would go on to play with the Chicago Bears (1996-1997), New York Jets (1998-2000), New England Patriots (2001), and the New Orleans Saints (2002). But, Cox was not done with Miami yet.
After he finished playing in 2002, Cox eventually found his way to the Jets as an assistant defensive line coach, holding the position from 2006 to 2008. He followed Eric Mangini to the Cleveland Browns as the defensive line coach in 2009 and 2010 before coming home to Miami for the 2011 season as the pass rush coach. He then became the defensive line coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2012 to 2013 before joining the Falcons in the same position in 2014.
Cox was always an entertaining member of the Dolphins defense, including during his rookie season when Cox was ready to fight the entire Bengals sideline. On the kickoff, the Bengals took a cheap shot at Miami kicker Pete Stoyanovich, then they started celebrating on the sideline. Cox did not agree with that celebration:
Cox also shared his love for the city and fans of Buffalo in this entrance to a game in 1993:
Just for the record, you also do not mess with Cox even when he is “just” a coach:
And, with the Falcons, he took the ice bucket challenge back in 2014, reacting to the ice cold water hitting him exactly as you would expect Bryan Cox to react:
So, what has Cox been with the Falcons since he arrived as a coach? I asked Dave Choate of The Falcoholic for his impressions of Cox:
It has been difficult to tell what Cox's value has been to the Falcons. There's little question he's an entertaining personality and someone his players respect, but he hasn't coaxed much of a pass rush (or stellar performances in general) out of the defensive line thus far, which suggests the Falcons either haven't had enough talent or that talent hasn't been coached up well. I think it's the former, personally, and I'm excited to see the Cox-coached line can do this year after adding Derrick Shelby.
That sounds exactly like Cox, especially being entertaining and getting the respect of the players. It will be interesting to see if a former Dolphins player can get the most out of the potential of another former Dolphins player now that Cox is coaching Shelby.
(Author’s side note: The entire point of this article was simply to get the Cox videos against the Bengals and Bills into an article. Always fun to look back at the impact Cox had with the team, and the entertainment he brought to the club when he played here.)