Eagles defensive strategy begins with their front (as it should)

Brandon Graham #55, Fletcher Cox #91, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Brandon Graham #55, Fletcher Cox #91, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The philosophy of the Philadelphia Eagles since Howie Roseman has been their general manager (and even before that when Andy Reid handled those duties) has been to build from the trenches and then work from there. Everything starts up front.

The Eagles have shown, year in and year out, how much value they place in constructing the offensive and defensive lines, and that hasn’t changed in 2022. Howie dedicated much of his time during the most recent offseason to addressing the defensive line, all to allow himself the opportunity of making two big acquisitions.

The Eagles signed EDGE star Haason Reddick back in March at the dawn of the most recent free-agency frenzy. His role? Rely on those big guys up front to push the pocket while he bends at gets to the other team’s signal-caller.

The self-proclaimed “weapon” and Camden County native is returning home to the Birds and is looking to be a major force as one of the team’s upgrades at the linebacker position. In addition to Reddick, the Eagles traded up during Round 1 of the most recent NFL Draft to select Georgia Bulldogs defensive tackle Jordan Davis.

The 2021 Chuck Bednarik Award winner, an award given to the top defensive player in the country, was the anchor of Georgia’s star-studded defensive line. Both Dean and Reddick’s addition, along with the returning stars the Birds fielded in 2021 will be the driving force behind the success of Jonathan Gannon’s defense.

The Eagles’ defensive line will need to be one of this team’s strengths (and it probably will be).

Last season, the Eagles ranked second to last in the NFL in the sack category with 29. For a team whose desire was to push the pocket and get to the quarterback, that was a massive disappointment. It was clear that they needed more juice.

New additions along the line and the return of fan-favorite Brandon Graham will, hopefully, lead to more QB takedowns and pressures during the 2022-2023 NFL season.

Looking at the defensive line as a whole, this team is loaded with both depth and talent. At defensive tackle, there’s Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Jordan Davis, and Milton Williams. The defensive end group consists of Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett, Brandon Graham, and Tarron Jackson.  The SAM position (middle linebackers) includes the aforementioned Haason Reddick, Kyron Johnson, T.J. Edwards, and Patrick Johnson.

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The Eagles have invested a vast amount of resources into building this defensive line. They have one of the deepest units in football with Pro Bowl-level talent all over the place. They’ll need to step up big time in 2022 and carry the load.

The Eagles’ secondary continues to be a concern. They have holes all over the place, primarily at safety and the outside cornerback position opposite of Darius Slay. While both areas are huge needs, a strong and consistent pass rush by the defensive line can take the pressure off of the secondary (somewhat).

That appears to be the plan as it always is, for now. Don’t rule out the possibility of Philly making a few more additions at some point.