Jonathan Gannon explains Eagles’ successful season of sacks

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Gannon explains Eagles’ successful season of sacks originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

You’ve probably heard Jonathan Gannon say before that sacks by themselves are not a winning statistic.

That’s because the Eagles as an organization have two “winning stats” outside of points: Takeaways and explosive plays.

Those are the two biggest factors to easily winning football games. But that doesn’t mean sacks aren’t important. And the Eagles have piled up more than any other team this season by a long shot.

“But knowing what you have to do as a defense to affect the game in a positive way, affecting the quarterback is up there,” Gannon said. “So in and of itself it's not a winning stat, but we want to hit and affect the quarterback, and sacks go into that.

“So our guys are doing a really good job with that, and we'll continue in known pass to win those downs. Sacks, if you just look at that stat, it's really all 11, and I've talked about that. It's coordinated rushes. It's guys winning with one-on-ones. It's the back end doing the right thing, if you’ve got seven, six, five in coverage. Everyone has got to be coordinated. They’ve got to stay connected and really do their jobs and then you see the production come.”

The Eagles this season have an incredible 68 sacks as a team. That’s a franchise record and is closing in on the NFL’s all-time mark of 72 from the 1984 Bears.

Entering Week 18, the Eagles are tied for the fourth-most sacks ever in a season. Sure, if they break the record it’ll come in the 17th game of the season … but eventually all records will be taken over in this way.

What makes the Eagles so impressive in this area is that they’re so far ahead of the rest of the league. They have 68. No. 2 in the NFL is the Patriots with 52. That’s a difference of 16 sacks, which is also the difference between No. 2 and No. 21 on the list.

The Eagles have also skyrocketed from last season, when they had just 29 in 17 games, second-fewest in the NFL.

“That's an area that we wanted to affect the quarterback more,” Gannon said. “If it comes with sacks, great. If it comes with better coverage and making the quarterback hold it and reset, great. If it's better with disguises. …

“You know all those things, the weapons that you have at your disposal as a defense to try to affect the quarterback, we wanted to improve all of that.”

The Eagles are also the first team in NFL history to have four players with double digit sacks: Haason Reddick has 16, while Javon Hargrave, Josh Sweat and Brandon Graham have 11 apiece.

When asked if Reddick should be considered for Defensive Player of the Year, Gannon asked how many sacks he has. He was informed Reddick has 16.

“Yeah, he is up there,” Gannon said. “He is one of the best players in the NFL. I would say that. You know, if I didn't drop him so much, he would probably have 25.”

That last part is a nod to the frequent questions in training camp about Reddick’s impending usage. Because of the way the Eagles’ front, Reddick is sometimes dropped into coverage, which takes away pass rush opportunities.

Reddick’s 16 sacks this season rank second in the NFL behind just DPOY favorite Nick Bosa, who has 17 1/2.

“That's a kudos in Haason's hat to do whatever we need to do,” Sirianni said. “He will do whatever we ask him to do to win the game. That's what you talk about. That's what you want out of your elite defenders is to be team-first and put themselves second behind the team, and that's what he does.”

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