Eagles: Creating pressure hasn’t been an issue for D-line, getting sacks have

While the Eagles defensive line hasn’t been a total disaster in 2021, they’ve been a huge disappointment relative to expectations.

Coming into the season, this unit was touted as a top-3 line in the NFL. They had a nice blend of veteran talent mixed with young potential. And they were coming off a season in which they finished third in the league in sacks with 49.

But something just hasn’t clicked for this unit in 2021, and they find themselves in the bottom third of the league in sacks, while still putting up respectable pass rushing numbers in related categories.

Here’s how the Eagles pass rush stacks up with the rest of the NFL:

  • Sacks: 21 (27th)
  • Pressures: 109 (18th)
  • Hurries: 50 (6th)
  • QB knockdowns: 38 (T-10th)

It’s a little unusual that a team ranking pretty well in pass rushing categories struggles to get sacks. But that’s been the story of the Philadelphia Eagles defensive line this season.

There are a few contributing factors to this. First and foremost, the loss of Brandon Graham has played a huge role. He was the leading sack man for the Eagles last season and it took the defensive line several weeks to effectively mitigate his loss.

The other anchors of the defensive line are also just older. Fletcher Cox isn’t the interior force he once was and it’s pretty evident by his 2021 stat line. He’s recorded just one sack this year, while tallying only seven quarterback hits.

Ryan Kerrigan, another veteran along the line, has been a complete dud this year. On 266 defensive snaps, Kerrigan has mustered up just three combined tackles and two hits on the quarterback.

As for the rest of the line, they only have one legitimate young talent right now, and that’s Josh Sweat. He’s recorded six sacks on the season and sits at a 72.8 overall grade on Pro Football Focus, 34th among all qualifying edge rushers in the NFL.

Javon Hargrave has also been a nice piece along the line, tallying seven sacks on the year and posting an elite 90.8 pass rushing grade on PFF.

At this point in the season, the Eagles defensive line is what it is. They’re solid at stopping the run and creating pressure, they just struggle to convert those pressures into sacks.

Until they get another bonified pass rusher, either through the draft or free agency this offseason, their struggles on the sack front will continue.

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