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Eagles Defense: Best in the NFC East

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The Philadelphia Eagles are set to begin training camp on Tuesday, July 26th, and this is always an exciting time in the NFL and an opportunity for coaches, analysts, and fans to gauge how well their team will perform during the season. General Manager Howie Roseman was extremely aggressive this offseason in acquiring new players on both sides of the ball. The most prolific additions can be observed on the defensive side. The Birds picked up veteran players Haason Reddick, Kyzir White, and James Bradberry this offseason. In addition to the vets, the Birds also snatched up Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean in the 2022 NFL Draft. Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon has the necessary tools in his arsenal to elevate his defense from middle-of-the-pack to a top defensive unit in the NFC East and the league this season.

Defensive Line and The Return of BG

The starting defensive line for the Birds is rich with experienced players who are all capable of all pro seasons. Perhaps one of the most anticipated returns to the starting lineup in South Philly this season is defensive end and Captain, Brandon Graham. Graham was sidelined last season due to a season-ending Achilles tear in Week 2 against the Chargers. The 12-year veteran will no doubt look to make his presence well known on the gridiron with vicious edge rushing and first-class leadership.

Another well-known defensive lineman for the Birds is Fletcher Cox. Big Fletch did not have the greatest season last year, although some of that can be chalked up to working with a completely new defensive scheme under Gannon. Fletch notched 3.5 sacks and 35 total tackles last season, the big man up front will look to up those numbers this year and play a greater role in the defense. Cox is a true Philly player who wants to play for the birds as he was cut this offseason to aid with cap space and then later agreed to a new one-year deal with the Eagles.

Javon Hargrave and Josh Sweat are not to be looked over as well. The DT and DE both racked up numbers last year in the stats column –– Hargrave accounting for 7.5 sacks and 63 total tackles, Sweat accounting for 7.5 sacks and 45 total tackles.

Now we have rookie and absolute freak of nature: Jordan Davis. The 6’6″ 340-pound defensive tackle is notorious for his freakish speed and athletic ability all the while being a mountain of a man. The 22-year-old former Georgia Bulldog will compete for a starting position on the Birds’ defensive line during the upcoming training camp. Davis was responsible for two sacks and 32 total tackles during the 2021 Championship season for the dawgs. Surrounded by decorated veterans such as Cox and Graham, the big man should flourish under their wing.

Linebackers

The linebacker position has been nothing short of an atrocity in Philadelphia for the past few years. However, this offseason GM Howie Roseman finally decided to change that. Starting off with signing OLB Haason Reddick. The prayers of Philly fans have been answered with this offseason move, Reddick proved his worth during his last season with the Panthers in 2021. The Camden, New Jersey native was responsible for 11 sacks and 68 total tackles last season. The 27-year-old doubles as a pass rusher as well, which adds yet another weapon to Gannon’s arsenal. Reddick brings the hometown feel back to Philly, hailing from Camden, NJ, and attending Temple University during his college years, he is a true homegrown Eagle looking to make his presence known on the field this year for the Birds.

Joining Reddick at the linebacker position is former Charger, Kyzir White. White had an explosive season last year for the Chargers, responsible for 144 total tackles and one sack. Roseman inked White to a one-year deal with the Eagles for $3 million guaranteed with the potential to earn up to $5 million with incentives. Considering the season White had in 2021 and being a four-year veteran in the league, this is an absolute steal for the Birds.

Rookie Nakobe Dean will be making his debut in the NFL this year with the Eagles. Often revered as one of the top defensive players in this year’s draft class, the ceiling is high for Dean. The former Bulldog racked up 72 total tackles (10.5 for loss) and 7 sacks during the dawgs’ 2021-2022 championship run. The 21-year-old will compete against TJ Edwards for the starting OBLB position. Dean was a leader for the dominant Georgia defense last year and will look to translate his excellent play and leadership style to the Eagles for years to come.

Defensive Backs

This past offseason the NY Giants released veteran CB, James Bradberry in early May after being unable to find a trade destination. In classic fashion, Howie Roseman snatched up the veteran corner for a one-year deal worth up to $10 million. Bradberry fills a huge void at the cornerback position for the Eagles. The former Giant will work alongside veteran and star-studded corner, Darius Slay. Big play Slay has proven his worth the past few seasons and has made a name for himself as one of the top corners in the NFL. The 31-year-old accounted for 57 total tackles, 3 interceptions, and 1 touchdown last season. The Bradberry and Slay duo will bully opposing quarterbacks and receivers with relentless pass coverage.

2022 Season

Considering the various additions of both veterans and rookies to the Philly defense, the Birds’ defense should be the top dog in the NFC East. Gannon’s unit last season was missing team Captain and potentially the best defensive player on the roster, Brandon Graham, despite that the defense let up the second least amount of total points amongst NFC East defenses (trailing Dallas). Despite the poor reputation that the NFC East harbors, the Eagles’ defensive unit should most definitely reign supreme amongst the Giants, Commanders, and Cowboys. Right now, the team can be seen as a paper tiger as no scrimmages or games have been played. However, the talent that has been added and is returning from injury must propel this defensive unit to the top. In addition, it is absolutely vital that all players on this unit stay healthy for the duration of the season. If this unit is to stay healthy and work cohesively under the command of Gannon, there is no reason for them not to be the best in the NFC East and perhaps the entire league.

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