Josh Sweat is building momentum on Eagles defensive line

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It was a major theme throughout the preseason. Daeshon Hall vs Josh Sweat. Who would take over at the 4th defensive end position?

After ranking as the best overall defensive player in preseason, according to PFF, Hall has mostly seen the inactive list on gameday. Sweat, on the other hand, has been a regular on the defensive front, and is seeing consistent meaningful workload – and is taking full advantage.

Increased workload – increased impact

Against the Packers, Sweat saw the highest amount of snaps so far this season with 26 (2nd highest total came against Atlanta where he played 18). He notched 2 QB hurries, 2 tackles, and a defensive stop.

While he doesn’t blow up the stat sheet, he flashes techniques that prove he belongs against starting NFL offensive lines.

Arguably the biggest flash so far came against the Packers. Sure, he had a couple of plays that were just milliseconds away from changing the course of a game, but there was one play on Thursday that saw Sweat explode off the edge and push RB Aaron Jones into oblivion.

What is really special about Sweat, and something that’s being massively overlooked is that in just his second season, is playing both 3 -technique defensive tackle on pass downs, as well as regular snaps at 5-technique (or occasional wide-9) defensive end – and doesn’t fall through on tape.

After the loss to Atlanta, Schwartz was asked about the reasoning behind moving Sweat around the defensive front.

“Just matchups. I thought that — he only got a couple reps in there.” The defensive coordinator explained. “It wasn’t a huge part of our game plan. But I thought he had some good — I thought his best reps were outside in this game. He had a couple nice pass rushes and did a nice job against the run. If you’re on our 46, we have confidence in putting you in the game. Every week it might be a little bit different, but his role wasn’t huge in that game, but I thought he gave us some effective snaps.”

Playing at a consistently high level

When you evaluate players, you usually see specific areas of strength that carry the players’ value. Whether it be in terms of pass rush, run defense, or tackle ability.

Looking at Sweat’s numbers, he has graded as “good” (grade 60-70) or “very good” (grade 70-80) in every category, every week except for two instances, according to Pro Football Focus:

TotalRun defenseTacklePass rush
Vs Was65.559.574.465.0
Vs ATL75.471.172.664.4
Vs Det66.459.169.5
Vs GB69.165.570.263.0

Slowly taking over?

An interesting thing to watch for during the season, is whether Vinny Curry’s snaps will decrease, while Sweat’s increase.

One thing is for sure: if he continues to make an impact from multiple positions on the defensive line, Sweat has the athletic profile of a player you want to develop as much as possible.

You have to feel that after a few weeks of coming so close to that all-important headline play, Sweat is on the verge of something special.

Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

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