How Josh Sweat became a pillar of the Philadelphia Eagles defense

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Josh sweat
PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 06: Philadelphia Eagles Defensive End Josh Sweat (94) sacks New York Jets Quarterback Luke Falk (8) in the second half during the game between the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles on October 06, 2019 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles have had to lean heavily on Josh Sweat this season. He is regularly playing 75% or more of the defensive snaps and with every game being one the Eagles have to win as they make their push to the playoffs, relief may not be coming until the offseason. But if there is anyone who can handle and prepare for the stress of such a workload, it is Josh Sweat.

Josh Sweat’s career-ending injury scare

In September 2014, during his Senior year at Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake Virginia, Josh went down with an injury that has been described by all as gruesome, devastating, and potentially career-ending. The possibility of amputation due to the severity of knee and arterial damage (which can cause a total loss of blood flow to the lower leg) was also discussed by the Doctors upon his arrival at the hospital.

Josh Sweat (Via Bleacher Report) “The bottom of the leg would’ve died if it didn’t have enough blood, arteries can be repaired, but if it’s damaged too much, then you have to remove it.”

Sweat’s father, William Washington stated back in 2015 “It was never an ‘Oh my God, I’m hurt.’ We didn’t go through that he (Josh) never had that down moment, people talk about that, but he’s never had that down moment. He’s always known he would get himself back together. He knew he would play again.”

Josh embraced rehab and started the hard work to get his body healed and back into football shape the first day he was cleared.

The return to Football

The positive attitude, hard work, and determination paid off. Josh enrolled with Florida State in January of 2015, and by the start of their season, he was back doing what he loves, playing football. 

As a freshman, Sweat played 12 games and filled the stat sheet with 41 tackles, 5 sacks, an interception, 2 passes defended, and 3 fumble recoveries. His performance ended all doubts about whether he could play at a high level again. He finished his 3-year collegiate career with 14.5 sacks and 29 TFLs in 35 games. And just as important, healthy. 

Eagles josh sweat
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) passes over Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Josh Sweat (94) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Almost 4 years removed from his devastating injury, Sweat once again found himself being examined, but this time it was the team doctors for most NFL pro franchises who were reviewing the medicals on his knee as well as watching his performance at the NFL Combine. Pre-draft Josh stated the importance of that day in Indianapolis  (Via Jacksonville.com) “When I went to the Combine, I checked out and there’s nothing wrong. But I knew that coming into it. If I ran fast and jumped high, the odds would be in my favor.” 

The odds did fall in his favor, and he was moving up NFL Draft boards. 

Josh Sweat arrives in Philadelphia

Sweat was rewarded by being selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round, with the 130th overall pick, of the 2018 NFL Draft and he has been wreaking havoc on opposing Quarterbacks ever since.

Many have noted that Josh Sweats’ career has paralleled that of Brandon Graham’s in that they both overcame injuries and continue to exceed and improve due to their unrelenting work ethic. 

He has been a workhorse since arriving in Philadelphia and has only missed 3 games in his career due to injury. Two with a wrist in 2020 and one game with a neck strain back in week 17 of 2022, which he would have played through if they had needed to win. 

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Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Josh Sweat (94) and safety Sydney Brown (21) react after a tackle against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

Could the parallels run deeper and might the Eagles have another Super Bowl hero in the making on their hands? They sure hope so.

A Super Bowl Run

Josh Sweat is currently 10th in the league in pressures with 49, 26th in sacks with 6.5, and 29th in TFLs with 7. He has played 771 snaps (76% of all defensive snaps), which is by far the most in his career. His previous high was 655 in 2021, and last year while being in a heavy rotation he only played 587. Those fresher legs led to a big season. Sweat was very productive, including having 11 sacks.

Despite Sweat not having a sack since back on November 5th against Dallas, the Birds will continue to rely on him being able to be on the field for a high workload. For a man who just 9 years ago didn’t know if he would ever walk again much less play football, being on the field is a priority and passion, not a chore. 

The hope is that over the next couple of weeks, the Edge rushers will be able to get a little more rest.

Josh Sweat hopes to continue getting snaps well into February. 

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Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire