It’s safe to say that Wildcard weekend exceeded everyone’s expectations. Four games filled with drama, highlights and heartbreak, there’s nothing quite like playoff football, which in itself is almost an entirely new season. During the postseason, heroes fall and unlikely new stars rise. One of those names is Treyvon Hester. You may not know him now, but you will.
In what became the biggest play of
the game the year for both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Chicago Bears, the pressure mounted on a kicker who had already missed eleven field goals that season, including a game where he hit the post on three separate occasions. Former Eagle, Cody Parkey, stepped up to the tee knowing that this kick would decide who advances to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. The Eagles had fought with everything they had to get to that point and it would all be decided by a kick. Elliott pushed his laces through the ball as the world fell silent.
Two explosive thudding sounds echoed through the stadium, the kick was no good. The Eagles had won. But it wasn’t until after the euphoria of such an unlikely win, that it was later confirmed how bad luck found Parkey once more. He didn’t mishit the kick, instead it was deflected by Eagles defensive lineman, Treyvon Hester.
The former Toledo Rocket has experienced quite the rollercoaster of his own since being drafted by the Raiders in the seventh round of last year’s draft. During his rookie year, Hester played in 14 games, totaling 19 tackles and a forced fumble before being cut in the early stages of the following season, despite a fairly impressive preseason. The Eagles were quick to snap him up, stashing his 6’2, 304 lbs, frame on their practice squad.
Defensive tackle was rapidly becoming a position of need for the Eagles. The injury to Timmy Jernigan meant that Fletcher Cox would see a much heavier workload. Haloti Ngata was battling durability concerns and all of a sudden, depth was an issue. Bruce Hector, a former practice squad member himself, was largely ineffective as the Eagles struggled to take the weight off the shoulders of Fletcher Cox.
Hester would be promoted to the active roster less than a month later and started making an impact immediately. His first game came against the Minnesota Vikings back in October and since then, only three of his 13 appearances have passed where Hester hasn’t made a tackle. This shouldn’t come as a surprise however given that the former Rocket amassed 32.0 tackles for a loss during his time at Toledo.
His first real flash would be in a much bigger game however. The Eagles were fighting to keep their season alive after dropping a heartbreaking overtime loss to Dallas and the odds seemed to only get bigger as time passed. With their schedule ending with fixtures against the Rams, Texans and Redskins, the Mountain was an extremely tall one to climb. But in the thunderous win over Houston, Hester tallied his first sack as an Eagle, bringing down an escaping Deshaun Watson, fueling the Eagles defense to a dominant drive.
Just a couple of weeks later, in his first taste of the NFL playoffs, in the biggest play of his career, this happened.
.@eagles #TreyvonHester is the newest star in the history of #Eagles . This left fingertips effect this Cody Parkey trajectory to create this double doing. It’s the ultimate “agony & ecstasy” of sports. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/9NfLMqUN1v
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) January 7, 2019
Hester, the unlikeliest player who since his activation to the Eagles roster has not only become a key cog in the run defense machine, but has been impactful on special teams, made the play that careered the Eagles to the divisional round of the playoffs.
In an offseason where the long-term future of Timmy Jernigan is unknown, the rise of Treyvon Hester is worth noting. Last year, the Eagles relied heavily on the services of Beau Allen and Destiny Vaeao, as they did in 2016, maintaining a deep rotation inside, That luxury was ripped from under the nose of Jim Schwartz this year, but Hester could play a huge role in helping restore the balance and elevating the dangerous threat that the front four possesses.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports