Philadelphia Eagles: Expect a Micah Parsons-y role for Haason Reddick

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

In case you haven’t heard, Haason Reddick is a quarterback-sacking specialist.

Now granted, Reddick can do a whole lot of other things too, as between his time at Temple, in Arizona, and reunited with Matt Rhule in Carolina, the pride of Camden has basically played every defensive position save defensive tackle and cornerback. But when one writes a sentence on Philly’s newest single-digit player, it’ll often include something about his 23.5 sacks over the past two seasons, which ranks among the best marks in the entire NFL.

So why, you may ask, are the Philadelphia Eagles listing Reddick as an outside linebacker, the position he played over the past two seasons for the 3-4 Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers, instead of defensive end, which is where edge rushers line up in a 4-3 defense? Is this a simple oversight, or do the Eagles have something planned for their new $15 million AAV defender?

Well, in my humble opinion, one has to simply look to how the 4-3 Dallas Cowboys used Micah Parsons during his rookie season to see the role the Philadelphia Eagles may envision for their new strongside linebacker.

The Philadelphia Eagles paid up for their version of Dallas’ do-it-all defender.

In 2021, Micah Parsons did a little bit of everything for the Dallas Cowboys.

According to the NFL on CBS – as of December 31st, 2021 – Parsons was the only player in the NFL with at least 200 run defense snaps, 200 pass-rushing snaps, and 200 coverage snaps, which both highlight how versatile his role was in Dan Quinn’s defense, and how uniquely talented of an athlete the defensive product out of Penn State is in the current NFL landscape.

Whether lined up on the defensive line, which happened 390 times, or off the ball in the box, where he was deployed 540 times according to Pro Football Focus, Parsons turned 114 blitzes into 13 sacks, 16 hurries, 47 pressures, and a trip to both the Pro Bowl and the AP’s All-Pro list.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that the Harrisburg native was named Defensive Rookie of the Year? Because that happened too.

Because of Parson’s athletic brilliance, running a 4.39 at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, Quinn was able to comfortably deploy number 11 in coverage as a matchup-neutralizer on opposing tight ends, placed on the line of scrimmage with a hand on the ground as a blitzer, and/or lined up at outside, or even inside linebacker, where his unique combination of speed and power would create instant mismatches versus centers and guards.

While I kind of doubt we’ll see Haason Reddick taking quite as many snaps in space as a coverage player, as he only logged 33 snaps off the ball in 2021 and hasn’t been relied on as a consistent coverage player since 2019, Jonathan Gannon could opt to use him a la Genard Avery as an off-ball run stuffer – and between-the-tackles standup rusher –  in base packages before kicking him down opposite Josh Sweat as a speedy rusher off the edge in defensive sub-packages. Like Parsons, Reddick has great speed, fantastic burst for a player weighing over 230 pounds, and is able to use that burst to breeze past would-be blockers on his way to the ball handler; if Gannon can pick his spots in coverage to optimize Reddick’s athleticism without forcing him into an unadventurous situation, the prospects of Reddick playing a Parsons-esque role is very much in play.

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Micah Parsons is a defensive unicorn. There isn’t another player in the NFL with his exact athletic profile, and there may never be another one again, for that matter, either. While Haason Reddick isn’t a one-for-one clone of Dallas’ Defensive Rookie of the Year, he’s one of the few players in the NFL who can be deployed in a similar role and hold his own fairly well. Whether deployed in the box or on the line, Reddick is a major upgrade for the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive front seven and could fill a number of different roles in Jonathan Gannon’s defense this fall.