After four games, the Philadelphia Eagles are the NFL’s leader in sacks.
Throughout the NFL community, the NFC East is constantly the brunt of a few jokes. The Philadelphia Eagles went from winless to first place in a day thanks to their 1-2-1 record and their win over the San Francisco 49ers. It isn’t dominant, but fans will take it.
This team’s performance has been under fire through the first quarter of the season. Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson, Howie Roseman, the offensive line, the linebackers, and the training staff have all been the subject of some criticism.
There is one positive if you’re a Philadelphia Eagles fan.
Believe it or not, the Philadelphia Eagles lead the league in sacks through the first four weeks of the NFL season with 17. Yes, you read that correctly.
Sure, they’ve played one more game than the Pittsburgh Steelers have (their week 5 opponent), but knowing that the Eagles pass rush is alive and well is very significant. In 2017, the Eagles rode to a Super Bowl, thanks in part to their ability to rush the passer, this despite experiencing so many devastating injuries. Here’s the good news. 2020’s Eagles are beginning to resemble 2017’s version.
Chris Collinsworth started the Sunday Night Football broadcast by stating that the Eagles would need the ride their defensive line to a victory in Week 4. Well, Philly must have heard him. One of Super Bowl 52’s heroes, Brandon Graham, and rotational end Josh Sweat are both tied for sixth in the NFL with three sacks apiece.
Derek Barnett looks to be healthy and on pace for his long-awaited breakout season. He has 2.5 sacks. Genard Avery was arguably one of the MVPs of Week 4’s win, and Vinny Curry is expected to return at some point. That brings us all to the defensive tackles.
Fletcher Cox is the best interior defensive lineman in the league not named Aaron Donald, unless of course you now rank the Kansas City Chiefs star, Chris Jones, ahead of him. While Cox may still be dealing with injury, the rest of the group picked up the slack. Malik Jackson, a former Super Bowl champion in his own right, is back and healthy. Free-agent acquisition Javon Hargrave was wreaking havoc, and he has been all season. Even the reserves, Hassan Ridgeway and T.Y. McGill, have a sack and one-half sack respectively.
The Philadelphia Eagles have a huge test in Week 5.
So what can be taken from all of this? Well, the general consensus around the league is that winning the NFC East is the only way one of these teams will make the postseason. The division champion could even have a losing record.
The season is still young, but if the defensive line can maintain this pace (and the ‘Birds’ hold up in coverage), the sky is the limit for this Eagles team. It’s been proven that a dominant defense can carry a team. Philly may not be there yet, but next Sunday’s tilt with the Steelers, a team with a consistently great pass-rush of their own, will be a great litmus test for where Philadelphia is as a team. This is a huge test.