Affect the quarterback. Take the football away. Those are two of the pillars upon which Jonathan Gannon has built the defense and on Sunday at stormy Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles delivered with four quarterback sacks and five takeaways in Philadelphia's 29-21 win over Jacksonville to move to 4-0 on this 2022 season.
"That's what we're trying to do with this defense," cornerback James Bradberry said after he had one of the key takeaways, an interception of a Trevor Lawrence pass deep in Eagles territory in the third quarter to end a Jaguar drive. "It all starts up front. Our pass rush has been impacting everything we do on the back end. They've been great, taking over games. That helps us so much."
Five takeaways, and all of them meant something. Here is the breakdown of each of them as the Eagles had a +4 in the turnover ratio department against a team that entered the game with an NFL-best +7.
Fourth-and-3 at the Eagles' 34-yard line, Jacksonville ahead 14-0 and a first down here means Philadelphia is in deep trouble. But Lawrence coughed up the wet ball as he rolled right and Fletcher Cox recovered at the Philadelphia 43-yard line to give the Eagles possession. Jalen Hurts and the offense drove 57 yards in seven plays to score a touchdown – Hurts kept it himself and rushed it in from 3 yards out – and gain some momentum. The Eagles went on to score 29 consecutive points.
Two Jaguars possessions later and with the score tied 14-14, Lawrence mishandled a snap from center and Haason Reddick somehow located the ball in a pile of humanity and recovered it at the Jacksonville 35-yard line. The Eagles used eight plays to put the ball in the end zone on a Kenneth Gainwell 10-yard touchdown run to lead 20-14 at the half.
"I saw the ball on the ground at the snap and I just kept running to the ball, like our coaches preach to us," Reddick said. "I thought someone would have recovered it, but as I ran over there, I saw it was just sitting there by itself and I got on it."
Bradberry drove on the Lawrence pass intended for Christian Kirk to make a diving interception at the Philadelphia 7-yard line with just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter and the Eagles leading 20-14.
"When I saw him throw the ball, I just attacked it," Bradberry said. "It was a big play. We were all ready to get a stop there."
Reddick dominated in the fourth quarter. Early in the period, he swooped in on Lawrence and sacked him, forcing a fumble and recovering it himself at the Jacksonville 24-yard line. Once again, the Eagles turned that takeaway into a touchdown – Miles Sanders capped off a career day with a 5-yard scoring run – to take a 29-14 lead.
"That's the most satisfying thing about it is that our offense is putting points on the board after we take the ball away," he said as the Eagles turned the five turnovers into 22 points. "I just beat my man and then set my sights on the quarterback. That's the view you want to have."
It wasn't over. Not yet, anyway. The Jaguars had the football with no timeouts remaining at their 21 yard-line with 1:54 remaining. Reddick bullrushed his way into the backfield and again got to Lawrence to knock the ball loose. Tackle Javon Hargrave recovered and the Eagles took possession and ran out the clock.
How sweet it was.
"That's such a great feeling," said Reddick, who finished with two sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and another tackle for loss. "I told the guys before we went out on the field, 'Let's end it here. No doubts.' And what's what we did to get a big win."