Philadelphia Eagles legend Fletcher Cox dishes on Javon Hargrave

Javon Hargrave (93), Fletcher Cox (91) Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Javon Hargrave (93), Fletcher Cox (91) Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

Philadelphia Eagles fans and NFL fans, in general, need to slow down a tad.

Living in a microwave society, one in which people want results quickly and with them having to make the most minimal effort possible, just about everyone has forgotten about certain things, like hard work. From a football standpoint, Philadelphia Eagles fans and the fans of every other NFL team have gotten spoiled.

Perhaps we’ve seen so many instances of guys succeeding early in their careers that we forget that won’t be everyone’s story. We acknowledge the fact that quarterbacks must be groomed and allowed to make mistakes, but oftentimes, we ignore the fact that there are other positions on the football field too that also require coaching.

Those other positions are also important to a team’s overall success, and guys need to be allowed to learn the intricacies of those positions, grow in them, miss a tackle or drop a pass, and deal with some adversity.

The point is coaching isn’t just limited to quarterbacks. The development of a football team isn’t just limited to how often a young or an aging quarterback throws an interception. That’s why teams hire position coaches, but again, fans want results now. If they don’t get them, we’re inundated with all of the ‘he sucks’ and ‘he’s a bust’ jargon. That brings us to Javon Hargrave.

Philadelphia Eagles fans aren’t the only ones seeing Hargrave’s maturity.

After being taken in the third round of 2016’s NFL Draft, Javon Hargrave spent four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he appeared in 67 games with 56 starts, including four playoff games. From the nose tackle position, where guys are normally allowed to absorb blocks and let other guys flourish in the 3-4 defensive scheme (a staple of the Steelers defense), Hargrave still wiggled his way into 177 total tackles, including 25 that resulted in a loss of yardage and 15.5 sacks.

That caught the interest of the Birds, and on March 21st of 2020, Eagles executive vice president and general manager Howie Roseman inked Hargrave to a three-year, $39 million deal. Now, here’s where coaching comes in.

Though some of you believe moving a few feet to the right or left should be an easy transition for someone playing in the NFL (Hargrave went from the nose tackle position in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 scheme to the defensive tackle position in Jim Schwartz’s 4-3), that just isn’t how it works. Defensive tackles need to be taught technique too.

As any Birds fan knows, Hargrave’s start in 2020 was a slow one (yes, fans said he ‘sucked’ too). He battled injury as he tried to learn, but he’s seemingly turned the corner. After racking up nine tackles and a sack from Week 2 to Week 8, he’s added 19 tackles and 3.5 sacks to his resume from Week 10 to Week 14.

Everyone has taken notice, and on the Thursday leading up to Week 15’s game versus the Arizona Cardinals, one of the greatest Eagles of all time, Fletcher Cox, took some time to shout a fellow defensive tackle out. Here’s a quote:

"Those guys (Hargrave and Josh Sweat) both have been playing really good ball all year. For Hargrave to get two sacks (in Week 14) was really big for him because I know (struggling) has probably been weighing on him for a while, and the biggest thing for him, that I talked to him about, is to be patient. Knowing that (in) this style of defense, it just (doesn’t) happen. You just don’t come in on day one and expect to play on a really high level, the way that we play it, especially coming from a two-gap scheme and the (style of defense) that he came from. But, actually, we were having a conversation today, and he was like ‘Man, thank you!’. He’s been playing really good and been practicing really great, just everything and taking opportunities and using his spare time to kind of really dive in on what he needs to do, and on Sundays, it shows up, how good he’s been playing."

Here’s a translation. Some things take time. All NFL players require coaching. Sometimes, it takes a few weeks to see the results. It doesn’t always mean that a guy ‘sucks’ if those results don’t translate to in-game action immediately.

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Now, if you’re a Philadelphia Eagles fan or a fan of any other team, take that same theory and apply it to Shaun Bradley, Jalen Reagor, Davion Taylor, Prince Tega Wahogho, Andre Dillard, K’Von Wallace, and everyone else. Let these guys grow up a little. You see what coaching did for Jordan Mailata. Wait. Didn’t some of you say that he ‘sucked’ too?