After Haason Reddick beat Andrew Wylie around the edge and sacked Sam Howell in the fourth quarter of the Eagles overtime win on Sunday, he raised his right thumb to the air in celebration.
No more cast. No more sack shutout.
Reddick finally got on the board and he hopes his 2023 season is about to turn around.
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“Just relieved. It’s been a process, it’s been a journey,” Reddick said after the 34-31 overtime win. “Not the camp or preseason that I wanted. But man, I’m out here fighting. More than anything, I’m just happy it wasn’t an injury that would keep me from playing. I get to still come out here day in, day out, on game days, play with my teammates, play with the dawgs. I’m just excited for that in itself.
“But getting the cast off and man am I feeling good and back to playing Haason Reddick type of football.”
Reddick, 29, got off to a disappointing start in the 2023 season. Sure, the Eagles have been winning games, but Reddick hasn’t been his usual dominating self. In training camp, Reddick suffered a thumb injury that required surgery and even though he was able to play the first three weeks of the season, he didn’t look like himself.
Having a cast on his right thumb clearly affected his play and he was pretty excited this Thursday after it finally got removed.
Not only did Reddick have that sack on Howell in the fourth quarter but he dominated that series to force a punt that led to the Eagles’ go-ahead drive. He finally looked like the 2022 version of Reddick, who had 19 1/2 sacks in the regular season and playoffs and made his first career Pro Bowl.
Aside from dealing with the cast, Reddick has also been dealing with a bunch of extra attention from opposing offenses. While he also mentioned that he’s not the only Eagles edge player getting extra attention, Reddick has seen a ton of it. Protection has been sliding his way, running backs are chipping and tight ends are making his path to the quarterback longer.
All of that can get frustrating at times. But it comes with the territory.
“It’s tough,” Reddick said. “But, hey, had a big year last year. It’s a respect thing. And I understand it. I understand it completely. It can get frustrating at times but just gotta do a better job of supporting my teammates when they’re doing this type of stuff. And when I do get my opportunities, make the best of them.”
After having double digit sacks in each of his last three seasons, Reddick has just 1 sack and 2 quarterback hits in 4 games to start the 2023 campaign. But he’s hoping the flood gates are about to open, especially because of the play of his teammates.
Sure, Reddick is getting a bunch of attention now but he thinks things are going to even out soon.
“It’s frustrating, but we’re seeing it now and it’s starting to balance out,” he explained. “They can’t continue to take the edges out the game the whole time because we have D-tackles that’s playing well. We have guys like (Nicholas) Morrow that are getting their opportunity when his number is called. He’s going out there and he’s making sure he’s successful and taking advantage of every opportunity. The more we keep doing this, the more guys keep showing that they’re ballers and they can make plays as well, it’ll open up for everybody.”
Morrow on Sunday had a career day as a blitzer, picking up three sacks. And it’s going to be hard for offenses to ignore the play of guys like Jalen Carter, Fletcher Cox, Jordan Davis and Milton Williams inside.
At some point, the Eagles are going to need Reddick to look like the Defensive Player of the Year candidate he was a year ago. Reddick hopes that started on Sunday night with his first sack of the season.
“I couldn’t wait,” Reddick said. “Like I said, they’ve been throwing a lot of things at me that I’m trying to find answers for. Not just me, our edges in general, that I’m trying to find answers for. Like I said, just so happy and blessed to get that first one off of there.”