If you were looking for another indication that the Eagles are going to have a more hybrid defense in 2022, Haason Reddick provided it on Wednesday.
The addition of Reddick, who will play the SAM linebacker position, itself was a hint back in March. But then there’s what Reddick revealed at the NovaCare Complex this week.
Reddick said the Eagles this year have split up their front 7 meeting rooms into three categories: Interior defensive line, edge rushers and inside linebackers.
“Right now, I’m in the room with Coach [Jeremiah Washburn],” Reddick said. “He’s coaching outside linebackers and defensive ends, which I think was a unique situation in itself from my understanding. Last year, everybody as far as D-tackles, inside defensive linemen and D-ends and outside linebackers, were all kind of in the same room, from my understanding.
“Now, it’s kind of been split up, which is a great thing because now we can focus on more of what we’re supposed to do to the position itself.”
Washburn is the Eagles’ director of player personnel/senior defensive assistant and he’s coaching the edge players. Presumably, defensive line coach Tracy Rocker is working with the interior of the defensive line and linebackers coach Nick Rallis has the inside linebackers.
Here’s a look at how these three rooms are likely split up:
Last week, head coach Nick Sirianni didn’t want to say if Eagles’ base defense will be a 4-3 or a 3-4 in 2022, but this is just the latest sign that the Eagles will at the very least be very multiple up front. Even Brandon Graham earlier this offseason hinted at more 3-4 defense. But you can probably expect some odd and even fronts in defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s second year in control.
“There are a lot of other teams that are probably going to want that answer too,” Sirianni said last week. “I will put this out now, I'll never answer that. You'll figure it out when we play the first game.”
Gannon has not spoken to reporters yet this offseason.
But some of the personnel added this spring, most prominently Reddick and nose tackle Jordan Davis in the draft, indicate that we’ll at least see some more 3-4 than we did in Gannon’s first year as defensive coordinator. What we know about Gannon is that he wants to be multiple and wants to create gameplans specific for each game. The Eagles now have a bunch of versatile pieces at their disposal.
Reddick definitely counts among them. When he watched tape of the 2021 Eagles defense while making his decision as a free agent, Reddick felt like he’d fit in really well in Gannon’s scheme. And now that they’re installing the defense, that belief has been solidified.
The Eagles are calling Reddick a linebacker, but he’s going to play the SAM position and is really an edge rusher who will be asked to get after quarterbacks. That’s why they’re paying him $15 million per season. But Reddick on his Twitter account calls himself a “weapon.”
“That’s how I feel, man,” Reddick said. “I feel like I’m a weapon of mass destruction when it comes to being on the football field. I can do a lot of things differently than a lot of guys. I move differently than a lot of guys. I’m not your typical edge rusher in the way that I rush. So I just feel like I’m different from other guys who play the position from around the league.”
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