Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon reveals Haason Reddick will drop back in coverage: ‘There’s a reason why we do that’

The Philadelphia Eagles defense lacked sack artists last season, part of the reason why Jonathan Gannon’s scheme failed to consistently get to the quarterback. Philadelphia took significant measures to improve the unit, signing Haason Reddick on the initial day of free agency and trading up in the first round of the draft and selecting Jordan Davis.

Gannon’s defense is versatile enough to run odd and even fronts, which will provide some intriguing matchups when rushing the passer. In theory, Reddick should benefit — but Gannon is seeing an opportunity to give his teammates a piece of the pie. 

“He’s a really good cover guy, so sometimes that’s a matchup driven thing,” Gannon said Friday. “He knows that when he would be dropping, like all our overhang players, there’s a reason why we do that. Flexibility with the defense, depending on what the offense does — that’s the kind of spacing we want to play.

“It helps his teammates win some one-on-one battles. That’s a process with all those guys we’re figuring out right now.” 

Reddick is listed as a linebacker on the depth chart, but he’s a natural edge rusher in today’s NFL. The Eagles signed Reddick to a three-year, $45 million deal after he finished with 68 tackles, 11 sacks, two forced fumbles, and 18 quarterback hits in 2021 — proving he was worth more than what he was paid. 

He did have 42 pressures in 2021 (eight fewer than in 2020) and 10 missed tackles, but Reddick showed he was a good pass rusher at 27 years old. Reddick and Aaron Donald are the only two players in the league to have 100 tackles, 20 sacks, and eight forced fumbles over the last two seasons.

Philadelphia does have the players up front to drop Reddick back, if Gannon so chooses. If Gannon is looking to generate pressure up the middle, he does have Javon Hargrave, Fletcher Cox, and Davis providing the interior force.

Davis’s progression will play a major role in Gannon deciding how he’ll utilize Reddick in some packages, yet there’s no rush this early in camp. 

“I’d like to see him play and practice, just like everyone else,” Gannon said. “We got to put him in those situations so he can be successful.” 

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