Haason Reddick knows how it works in this league: Quarterback sacks generally come in big handfuls, and when there is a chance to grab you some, you go and get it. In the meantime, the important approach to take is to keep pushing, keep working, keep contributing.
"All I know is that you just keep playing hard and doing your job and it's all going to even out," Reddick said as he walked out of the locker room at FedEx Field on Sunday following the Eagles' 24-8 win over Washington to lift this team to 3-0. "Then, all of a sudden, you have all of these opportunities and you take advantage of the situation. I knew it was coming. Last week (against Minnesota) I felt I rushed really well and beat my man and tried to affect the quarterback in any way that I could.
"I knew it was going to come."
Reddick recorded 1.5 of the team's nine quarterback sacks (and a forced fumble) on Sunday, his first as an Eagle. As the defense has gained familiarity with time on the field together, Reddick has gained as well. He's a tough, physical player who sets the edge against the run, drops into coverage when asked, and provides a relentless ferocity chasing down quarterbacks.
The Eagles gave up some big plays in the opening-day win at Detroit – the defense also had an interception return for a touchdown – but since then they've been lights out. In Week 2 against a powerful and explosive Minnesota defense, the Eagles allowed just 264 total net yards and had three takeaways. And then on Sunday it all came together for the defense, which produced a barrage of pressure on quarterback Carson Wentz, had a key takeaway that the offense turned into seven points, made a goal-line stand early in the fourth quarter, and didn't allow a scoring drive until most of the Washington fans were headed for the exits.
"When we get it going, it's just humming, man.
It just shows that our hard work is paying off, but we know it's not time to get complacent," Reddick said. "We gotta keep going, we gotta keep pushing, and we need to continue to have that dominating mentality. It's not about right now – it's about working toward our goal, to get to where we want to be at the end of the year. We need to put in the work and fine-tune the details every day.
"That's our mentality as a group. Each and every week we want to win against the man in front of us. That's our philosophy."
Reddick is one of the league's top pass rushers, having recorded 12.5 quarterback sacks in 2020 when he played with Arizona and then following up with 11 sacks last year as a Carolina Panther. The Eagles signed him as the prize of their free-agency class to help out with the pass rush. More pass pressure equals more mayhem equals more takeaways.
That's a winning formula for Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon.
And that's what the Eagles are doing up front – creating havoc. Even though they had a modest four quarterback sacks in the opening two games, the defense made the most of the pressure. James Bradberry intercepted a Jared Goff pass in the opener – Goff was pressured up the middle by tackle Marlon Tuipulotu to force the errant throw that linebacker Kyzir White tipped to Bradberry – and then in the Monday night win over Minnesota, consistent pressure up the middle and good edge pressure forced Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins into three interceptions.
The important number isn't always the sack totals, but it sure does feel nice when they are part of the equation.
"We knew it was going to happen with the group that we have," Reddick said. "This is very exciting, to be part of something like this. But we have to continue the hard work and (keep) improving. I hope that at some point we look at the first game of the season, even though that was a win, and we look back and say, 'Look how far we've come.' We just want to get better and better and better.
"When we all got together back in the spring, we looked at our defense on paper and felt good about things. But it's different going out there every week and doing it, so that's what is in the process of happening. We're going to just keep pushing and pushing and getting a little bit better each time out."
Next up, Jacksonville. The Jaguars pounded the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday and have a strong blend of a power running game and the high-level skills of second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The Eagles didn't celebrate for long after beating Washington; there is too much still to accomplish this season.
"It's definitely a week-by-week thing and that's what keeps you humble," Reddick said. "It feels great to win and the way our defense has played the last couple of weeks, yeah, we're pleased that we're making progress. But we're by no means where we want to be. We have a lot of work to do. That's exciting because we know we have a lot of room to improve and we know we're going to get there."