An injury paved Jackson’s way to the Philadelphia Eagles lineup once again.
When the Philadelphia Eagles signed defensive tackle Malik Jackson to a three-year, $30 million deal in 2019, they thought they had gotten themselves someone to solidify the defensive tackle position alongside Fletcher Cox. Then, there was that injury in Week 1. That sidelined the interior lineman for the rest of the season and ended any chances of Jackson filling the role the team’s brass envisioned him to have.
It made sense. Prior to all of that, it wasn’t long ago that Jackson was creating havoc for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Had he not had been so expensive, he might still be playing in Duval County, but no ‘Birds’ fan was going to complain about acquiring someone of Jackson’s talent to play alongside Cox and Brandon Graham. Had it not been for that Lisfranc injury, this could have been something special.
That’s when the questions began. Would Jackson be able to work his way back from the injury? Sure, the theory is he’d be fine because he never had a major injury before, but one never knows. Perhaps that’s part of the reason why they inked another defensive tackle, Javon Hargrave, who is supposed to play a meaningful role this upcoming season. Unfortunately, he carries a ‘week-to-week’ injury designation as he deals with a pectoral strain of his own.
Hopefully, Hargrave will be ready for the season opener, but there’s a chance that, even if he is, he might not be 100 percent healthy. Injuries are a part of the business though, and the ‘next man up’ mentality will need to prevail if many of these NFL teams are going to have a chance to compete in 2020.
There’s been a change of plans, but the 2020 Philadelphia Eagles should be fine.
No one may have seen this coming a month or so ago, but believe it or not, in this particular case, Hargrave’s injury has set the stage for Jackson, who’s now been taking advantage of the opportunity to show he’s fully healthy and ready to contribute for the ‘Birds’ this season. The word out of training camp is he’s dominated at the line of scrimmage and has constantly disrupted quarterback Carson Wentz.
These aren’t just occasional flashes either, Jackson has been a force at camp daily. He isn’t just healthy, he’s shown that he can atone for Hargrave’s absence and excel in the role the Eagles originally had in mind for him. Once Hargrave returns, the ‘Birds’ will have a formidable interior line and one of the league’s deepest front fours. No one knows what to expect of Derek Barnett or whether ‘B.G.’ will see a drop in his performance, but we do know Philly’s defensive tackle position is talented and deep.
Defensive tackles rarely play more than 60 percent of a team’s defensive snaps, and it’s common for coaches to rotate players at the position in and out of the lineup to keep them fresh. These are big men we are talking about, but even though they have a superhuman level of strength, stamina can come into question, especially over the course of a 16-game season.
Philadelphia employs three of the game’s best defensive tackles (and Hassan Ridgeway is no slouch either). The football gods seem to be smiling at Jackson, and he’s made the most of his comeback attempt. He should be a dominant force at the defensive tackle position all season.