Man on Fire: Haason Reddick outperforms a top candidate for Defensive Player of the Year in his most recent stretch
Haason Reddick’s prodigal son return to Philadelphia exceeded Eagles fans’ expectations in every aspect. The Temple product transformed into one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL, recording double-digit sacks and tackles for loss in each of his last three seasons.
After his March signing, I mentioned that Reddick could be in the conversation for this year’s NFL sack title. He sits 1.5 behind Nick Bosa heading into Week 18’s matchup with the Giants, while Bosa and the Niners face the Cardinals, who look like the Toon Squad bench with their injury report.
Maybe the first player ever to appear on both editions of Hard Knocks, quarterback David Blough will start again for Arizona, whose offensive line allows over 2.6 sacks per game (9th most in NFL). Not to be outdone, the Giants’ line remains awful, with the 5th most sacks surrendered this season, averaging almost three per contest and likely sitting several starters against the Eagles.
Bosa opened the season as the fifth favorite (+1400 or 14/1) to become the 2022 sacks leader, according to BetMGM. Haason Reddick offers a big payout if he eclipses Bosa’s sack total on Sunday. The Eagles’ newest pass rusher started at +2500 or 25/1 odds to lead the league in sacks, tied with two other current contenders, Matthew Judon and Chris Jones. With 2.5 sacks separating the top four players, it should be a thrilling final push for the 2022 title.
Currently, the odds-on favorite to win the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year as well, Nick Bosa leads the league in total pressures (88 via PFF), QB hits (30 via PFF), and of course, sacks (17.5 via ESPN). He’s also tied for the second most TFLs (18 via ESPN) and a 25.0% pass rush win rate, third best in the NFL (via PFF).
Micah Parsons, Vegas’ second-favorite to win, dropped from a -1100 lock in Week 12 after his two-sack performance against the Giants, according to SportsBettingDime. From that week on, Parsons’ odds fell to around +600 with Bosa soaring to around -1100 as I type this. As offenses focused on stopping the Penn State phenom, Nick Bosa continues to shine with better players surrounding him, thus resulting in a lower double-team rate.
This graph is not the most up-to-date, but Cowboys fans constantly point to the number of times Parsons deals with multiple blockers. But when there are no other threats to pressure the quarterback, what are teams supposed to do? Myles Garrett holds the highest double-team rate among edge defenders and has a better win rate (25.9%) than Micah (22.8%).
Also, it’s not that impressive of a statistic to back an elite pass rusher, as the NFL’s best defensive linemen deal with multiple blockers for their entire career (see Aaron Donald). Minnesota’s Za’Darius Smith is on the same y-axis for double teams and has a win rate of 21.8%, exactly one less percentage point than Parsons.
Here is where the Cowboys fans come in guns blazing to defend their boy despite not understanding Micah Parsons’ poor situational scheme in Dallas. He holds a much higher win percentage than Haason Reddick (18.3%) and demands almost triple the amount of double-teams. That’s a fact. But the horde of talented athletes on the Eagles’ interior defensive line directly attributes to Reddick’s career campaign.
Jonathan Gannon’s use of Haason’s versatility to play as a standing edge rusher on either side of the field creates one-on-one matchups on almost every play because teams must pick their poison. Do they double Fletcher Cox or Javon Hargrave on the interior where the most havoc originates? Or do coaches leave them, or Milton Williams, or Jordan Davis, one-on-one right over the ball and put an extra blocker on Josh Sweat or Brandon Graham? No offensive coordinators are losing sleep over who to double on the Cowboys’ defense.
Looking at Haason Reddick’s pass-rushing numbers from the beginning of December (Week 13) until last week, they compare almost identically to the presumed top defender of the year. Bosa holds the clear edge in virtually every regular-season statistic and dominates the rest of the field with the highest grades in all of PFF’s categories.
But for argument’s sake, let’s compare the Eagles’ top sack artist against the leading candidates for Defensive Player of the Year during the most meaningful stretch of football games, from December onwards.
Haason Reddick vs. Nick Bosa vs. Micah Parsons
In my draft profile on Micah Parsons, I claimed he would be a certified top-ten pick and defensive game-changer for whichever team was lucky enough to get him. The 2021 Defensive Rookie of the Year is struggling lately after his comments about Jalen Hurts being a “system quarterback.” What made Micah so disruptive as a rookie was his versatility to move from an edge rusher to a cover linebacker to a loaded cannon in the box ready to shoot through the offensive line on a blitz.
Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn subscribed to that theory during the 12th overall pick’s first season, splitting his time evenly between a linebacker in the box at over 56% and on the line as an edge rusher in over 40% of his 960 total defensive snaps. This year, Quinn has Parsons lined up nearly 80% on the line, particularly on the right side as an edge rusher. You can’t disrupt an opposing offense’s game plan if they know where and when your best defender will be at all times.
Lastly, the advanced analytics guru of pass rushing, Seth Walder, listed the ranks of NFL defenders based on their “Sacks Created.” This stat credits the player who earned the first pass rush win on a sack play rather than the person who finished the sack, although it can be the same player. Take a wild guess who leads the league in sacks created heading into Week 18.
Despite the best campaign of his career, Haason Reddick somehow is not in the national conversation for Defensive Player of the Year, which makes no sense to this die-hard Eagles fan even though I explained the plethora of talent on the defensive line.
At 28 years old and inking a three-year, $45 million deal, Reddick will wreak havoc for the Eagles’ defense potentially until the 2025 season. That is terrific news for Birds’ fans as the core of their defensive line performs at one of the highest levels in the NFL and looks to continue that trend for the foreseeable future.
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