Eagles star Haason Reddick has been thriving in his last 3 games since ditching the thumb cast

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Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick reacts following an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the New York Giants, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Eagles won 38-7. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Philadelphia Eagles Pro Bowler Haason Reddick wasn’t in the mood to make excuses after fighting through a thumb injury over the first three weeks. The cast over his surgically-repaired right digit had limited his ability to get his fingers in the ground and explode off the line.

He was clearly encumbered, yet chose to put his head down and go to work instead of complaining. Then, in Week 4 on October 1, Reddick registered his first sack of the 2023 campaign when he ambushed Commanders quarterback Sam Howell with a key fourth-quarter pressure. It’s been a domino effect ever since for Reddick and the Eagles.

Reddick has 5.5 sacks over the past three weeks, including 2.5 sacks last week in the disappointing loss to the Jets. He’s been a menace, borderline un-blockable whether crashing through the interior or overpowering off the edge. He’s finally looking like the player who recorded a career high 16 sacks in 2022.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 12: Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick (7) prepares to rush during pre-season game between the New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles on August 12, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

“Getting out of the cast was a big thing for me,” Reddick told reporters on September 29. “A hell of a momentum and confidence booster, especially after going out there today and practicing. I’m not making any excuses, just now I can go out there and really be free.”

He’s been free to exert his will on the game again, something that cannot be overstated or undervalued. Reddick can wreck a quarterback’s confidence in one fell swoop. He is an offensive coordinator’s worst nightmare. He earned a 62.8 pass-rushing grade versus New York in Week 6 (47 snaps, via Pro Football Focus) after receiving a 70.9 grade against Los Angeles in Week 5 (38 snaps).

“I never made no excuse, man. I never talked about the cast,” Reddick reminded reporters after the Rams game (via The Inquirer). “If anybody ever asked me anything about it, all I kept saying was, ‘I’m happy to be out of it. I’m happy to be out of it. I’m happy to be out of it.’ That’s all I’ve ever said.”

Eagles, Haason Reddick Circling Week 13 Date

Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick celebrates after sacking Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

Haason Reddick was arguably the biggest reason why the Eagles obliterated the San Francisco 49ers in last year’s NFC Championship Game. He knocked out starting quarterback Brock Purdy after chopping down on his throwing arm and causing a fumble. Unfortunately (and completely unintentionally), Purdy suffered a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on the play. It was gruesome. It wasn’t the way anybody wanted the script to go. Yet it happened. Reddick finished the contest with two sacks and a fumble recovery.

Then something curious happened in the days and weeks following the game. The 49ers whined and complained about losing to the Eagles. They bemoaned how they were the better team and injuries — backup quarterback Josh Johnson left with a concussion — had thwarted their Super Bowl dreams. They refused to give credit to a stifling Eagles’ defense. Reddick listened to them make excuses throughout the offseason, choosing to keep quiet instead of fueling the fire.

He’ll look to shut them up on the field in Week 13 when the 49ers return to Lincoln Financial Field for a rematch against the Eagles. It’s going to be obnoxiously loud in South Philly in a game that could prove to be a preview of this year’s NFC Championship Game. Philadelphia versus San Francisco is the best budding rivalry in the NFL right now.

“I’ve watched things. I’ve seen things that guys were saying — Deebo Samuel, Fred [Warner], a lot of these guys that came out and talked about it — and I respect them,” Reddick told Rich Eisen. “I respect them for what their opinions and their thoughts and their belief in their team. For me, I’m the same way. I believe in my team. I believe in my teammates.

“And I feel the same way. So, for me, it’s like bring it on. Y’all kept on talking. Y’all talked about this all offseason, through the Super Bowl, after the playoff game so it’s like you better be prepared, man, because I know I will be and I know I’m going to do my best to make sure the team is ready, too.”

AP Photo/Chris Szagola