Philadelphia Eagles: Javon Hargrave season is already here

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

In 2020, expectations were sky-high for Philadelphia Eagles‘ prized free agent acquisition Javon Hargrave.

Signed away from the Pittsburgh Steelers on the richest contract of any nose tackle in the NFL at the time – even if that suggestion is a bit of a misnomer, as the Eagles planned to play him as a 4-3 defensive tackle – Howie Roseman and company hoped they’d finally found a long-term partner for Fletcher Cox in the middle of the defense.

Now granted, this wasn’t the Eagles’ first rodeo. They’d traded for and then extended Timmy Jernigan in 2017 before he fell off, signed Malik Jackson to a three-year, $30 million deal after he was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the spring of 2019, and finally went all-in on Hargrave after it became clear that he wasn’t headed back to Pittsburgh.

Unfortunately, Hargrave’s 2020 season, much like that of the Eagles as a whole, was underwhelming.

Call it the unfortunate byproduct of suffering a pectoral injury in camp that cost him all of Week 1 and most of Week 2, but Hargrave’s debut in midnight green started with a sputter and never quite found its footing from there as the season spiraled out into a staff-cleaning fire-a-thon.

Had Hargrave’s sophomore season in South Philly started off in a similarly lackluster fashion, we’d likely already be talking about whether he has a future with the team moving forward. But instead? Instead, Philadelphia Eagles fans have been treated to a series of absolutely dominant performances by number 97, who currently ranks fourth in the league in sacks ahead of every player not named Myles Garrett, Chandler Jones, or Haason Reddick.

The Philadelphia Eagles may have the best DT tandem in the NFL.

In 2020, Javon Hargrave averaged one sack every 133.45 defensive snaps.

He recorded 17 pressures, nine hurries, two QB hits, 38 combined tackles, and a missed tackle rating of 9.5, by far the worst mark of his career.

Those numbers are fine. Not quite $13 million a year money, but hey, Fletcher Cox has a few of those seasons on his resume too, so it’s not like you’re automatically eliminated from the conversation for the Hall of Fame if you don’t average 10 sacks and 100 tackles for a decade straight.

And in 2021? Well, let’s just say Hargrave has become a statistical darling.

He’s now averaging a sack every 35 snaps – which is fantastic, considering he’s averaging 47.6 snaps per game – has recorded eight pressures, a hurry, and three quarterback hits as the Eagles’ 1b to Cox’s 1a.

And his missed tackles percentage? Goose egg.

Now granted, will those numbers start to go down once Hargrave racks up more snaps? Sure. Hargrave (probably) isn’t going to average three sacks every two games and may even miss a few tackles here and there, depending on the situation. But as long as Hargrave has Cox next to him, he’ll surely be afforded far more single-team looks against an opposing guard than his play would suggest.

You see, Hargrave is still very much a nose tackle at his core. He almost expects double-teams when he bursts off the line and has an innate knowledge of how to squeeze his 6-foot-2, 305-pound frame through gaps like a bulldozer through police tape.

He’s a bull-rushing specialist who can knock smaller interior linemen – think Jason Kelce – with ease and was blessed with a relentless motor that just keeps trucking through the trenches as he keeps his way into the offensive backfield.

Throw that all together, and you’re left with a defensive tackle who may just crack the double-digit sack mark over the next 15 weeks; an accomplishment no Eagles’ defender has matched since Cox recorded 10.5 in 2018.

Next. Welp, at least Jake Elliott is kicking good. dark

For better or worse, the Philadelphia Eagles are built to win a certain way: In the trenches. Sure, they’ll say they want to throw for a million yards and shut down opposing teams with their much-improved secondary, but Howie Roseman has invested a ton of resources into his offensive and defensive line and, when they’re fully healthy, the results have been obvious. Regardless of how many sacks Javon Hargrave finishes out the regular season with, his game has been incredibly impactful to how opposing teams run their offense, which is really all you can ask for.