With Derek Barnett sidelined for Monday Night Football, Josh Sweat was primed to showcase just how valuable he can be for the Eagles.
The second-year DE is having a fine sophomore season after playing a pretty much irrelevant role in his rookie year. With the performance on MNF, Sweat is now up to 20 QB pressures and 4 sacks.
More importantly, his production couldn’t come at a better time.
“He’s been productive tackling.” Jim Schwartz responded when asked about the development of the FSU product. “Of the rotational defensive ends, he’s been tackling probably at a higher rate than a lot of those guys that we’ve had in those roles in the past and he’s rushing at very similar rates.
He’s a young player and I think he’s improving. He’s made some big plays for us this year and I think he’s made the most of the reps that he’s had the chance to get. Not a full-time player, but him and [DE] Vinny [Curry] both got more playing time in this game with [DE] Derek [Barnett] being down and both of those guys made some big plays for us. Vinny had an outstanding game, was very disruptive, made a couple of sacks and made a couple good plays in the run game.”
Quick trigger on a flea-flicker
In what looked to be yet another embarrassment of the Eagles CBs, namely Ronald Darby, Eli Manning was thriving on deep passes to Darius Slayton, who scored 2 long TDs in the first half.
As the Eagles finally punched the ball in for a score midway through the second half, the Giants subsequently faced a 3rd and 14 from their own 33-yard line. New York decided to try and keep the streak of trick-plays burning the Eagles alive by running a flea-flicker.
As Eli hands the ball off to Saquan, not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, BUT 6 of the DEEP defenders all sprint towards to line of scrimmage, leaving two wide-open receivers down the field for what could’ve been yet another deep strike. Rasul Douglas was the only defender that stayed at depth.
Josh Sweat got into the backfield with a burst, a powerful punch, and finishing pull, forcing Eli to quick pitch the ball back to Saquan. A TD was saved.
Putting the Giants offense away
On the final drive for the Giants, under 2 minutes to go, tied ball game 17-17, Sweat continued his beating of LT Nate Solder.
First down: Sweat stunts inside, bends athletically under the LG, and hits Eli a split second after the ball is thrown.
Second down: Sweat bursts upfield, swiping with two hands on Solder, while exploding with his hips, allowing him to bend at a sharp angle and hitting Eli, forcing a throwaway.
After 3 QB hits in a row for Sweat, Giants call a quick slant, which Sidney Jones comes in and breaks up.
Why so late?
One could make the relevant, yet premature argument, that Sweat should have produced much earlier in the game. In 21 pass-rushing snaps, he managed to get 4 pressures. Why not more?
The reason satisfies me. There have been simply false accusations that Sweat never gets doubled, hence the relatively high production. Against the Giants? A different story:
Whatever happens at DE, Josh Sweat stays
I’ve recapped just about every QB hit and pressure Sweat has had this year, and the difference between 4 sacks and 10 sacks is decided by a narrow margin. When he gets to the QB, he gets there fast.
The development of Sweat, starting with an extremely raw, health concerning, super athlete, to now being consistent with a quick get-off, violent hands, and a nasty bend, is astounding.
Whatever Eagles decide to do with Barnett, Curry, Graham, Hall, and the rest, one thing is for sure: Sweat is only going to get more playing time, and if he follows his developmental curve? – Look out!
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports