A look at how Haason Reddick fits into the Eagles’ defense
The Eagles swung for the fences to start free agency, agreeing to a three-year, $45 million contract with former Panthers edge rusher Haason Reddick.
GM Howie Roseman has consistently pursued top-end talent on the defensive line in years past, including through free agency like Javon Hargrave, the draft with Derek Barnett, or via trade like Michael Bennett.
While Reddick is a great edge rusher, he also provides a level of depth to the Eagles’ defense we haven’t seen before. With the introduction of Jonathan Gannon, the Eagles switched to a 3-4 hybrid defense during the 2021 season.
This scheme often saw Derek Barnett or Genard Avery as stand-up edge rushers opposite Josh Sweat. A 3-4 hybrid is good in theory, but both of these guys proved to be a liability, and Gannon did what he could with the personnel he had.
Now with Reddick in the Eagles’ defense, Gannon has the perfect player to do what he wants. Since his signing, the former Panther has been called a Sam, an edge rusher, and an off-ball linebacker. However, it seems Reddick has come up with his own designation.
Don’t expect anything crazy from this addition, but Reddick makes what Gannon has been trying to do in 2021 far better. Most of the time, he will be what he’s always been, a stand-up edge rusher.
However, I’d expect Gannon to put Reddick back in coverage more than he did with the Panthers. Philadelphia doesn’t need much out there. Avery just wasn’t good enough, while Barnett was an edge rusher being put into a role that just didn’t work.
In 2021, Reddick dropped back to coverage on just 73 of his 852 snaps, allowing nine receptions for 87 yards. However, during his four seasons with the Cardinals, Reddick was in coverage on 35% of his defensive snaps.
Having a defender who can drop into short zone coverages on flat routes would be massive for the Eagles’ defense. Reddick is so athletic that his coverage skills don’t even matter. His responsibilities would be so simple out there. Just getting into position is all that matters.
The threat of being capable out there is all that matters. It allows the Eagles to send a blitzing LB on a stunt without teams immediately thinking they can target a running back on a dump-off pass.
Between Josh Sweat, the returning Brandon Graham, and now Haason Reddick on the outside, it’s hard to see Philly targeting a player like David Ojabo in the first round. The Eagles often rotate at the defensive line, so a mid-round prospect or another free agent is likely. But it’s doubtful to see them bring in another star with other pressing needs.
However, it could happen if Gannon decides to switch things up into a 4-3 again with Reddick as a pure outside-linebacker. Gannon has made it clear he is fluid on what schemes he wants to run, but even then, putting Reddick in a pure OLB role would take away what makes him so great.
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