Eagles: Javon Hargrave is quietly becoming a force along the interior

It took awhile, but it looks like Eagles defensive tackle Javon Hargrave is finally settling in to his role in Jim Schwartz’s defense.

After Howie Roseman signed the former Steeler to a three-year, $39 million contract, a lot of fans, including myself, championed the signing. Then he got injured during training camp, forcing him to miss the first two games of the season. And once he returned, his impact was minimal.

That all changed after the bye week, as Hargrave has quietly become a force next to Fletcher Cox along the Eagles defensive line.

The injury more than likely played a role in his slow start, but the scheme change from the 3-4 nose tackle to a 3-tech in a 4-3 scheme can take some time to get acquainted with.

A nose tackle is typically a run stuffer, someone who can just take up space along the interior of the defensive line. In Schwartz’s scheme, defensive tackles are expected to get after the passer just as much as they’re expected to stop the run — if not more so.

Hargrave was a solid pass rusher during his tenure with Pittsburgh, which is why this transition felt like it would be seamless. While it wasn’t exactly ‘seamless’, Hargrave has proven himself over the past few games and he’s finally started playing up to his contract.

Since the bye week, Hargrave has tallied 3.5 sacks, which includes three in the past two games. His pass rushing ability has opened things up for Cox as well, who’s recorded four sacks since the bye week.

Hargrave was arguably the best defensive player on the field for the Eagles in their last game against the Saints. He notched two sacks, recorded four total tackles and hit the quarterback three additional times. Not to mention he recovered Josh Sweat’s sack-fumble to essentially seal the victory.

On the season, Hargrave has 4.5 total sacks, 28 combined tackles, five tackles for loss and eight QB hits while playing just 52 percent of the defensive snaps. He’s just two sacks away from tying his career high for a season (6.5).

Per Pro Football Focus, Hargrave has an 84.5 pass rushing grade on the year, the highest pass rushing grade of any defensive lineman on the team.

Signing Hargrave to a big deal always meant the team would likely move on from Malik Jackson this offseason, but now that he’s emerged as a serious pass rushing threat and has gotten comfortable in his new role, fans will feel better about having just Cox and Hargrave manning the interior of the defensive line next season.

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