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January 28, 2023

Eagles mailbag: Haason Reddick was a better pass rusher than Nick Bosa in 2022

Eagles NFL
120522HaasonReddick Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Haason Reddick

Earlier this week, we solicited questions for an Eagles mailbag via Twitter. Thank you as always for doing half the work for me. This is Part I of what will be a two-part mailbag.

Question from jennagele621: Why was Haasan Reddick snubbed in your opinion for DPOY? What are the keys to stopping Nick Bosa?

The three Defensive Player of Year finalists are Chris Jones (Chiefs), Micah Parsons (Cowboys), and Nick Bosa (49ers). I think they're all perfectly fine finalists, though I would put Jones and Parsons ahead of Bosa, who is favored to win it. 

What is odd to me is that Reddick never really seemed to be part of the conversation, when his numbers were right in line with Bosa's.

Player Tackles Sacks FF PBU 
Nick Bosa, 49ers 51 18.5 
Haason Reddick, Eagles 49 16.0 

Bosa was in on 19 sacks. Reddick was in on 18 sacks, but he was forced to share four sacks with teammates. None of those were cheapies in which his teammate clearly got there first and he "stole" a half sack by getting in on the tackle as the quarterback was already going down. If we're including the playoffs, Reddick has 1.5 sacks in one game; Bosa has zero sacks in two games.

Reddick has a significant edge in the forced fumble department, which is kind of a big deal, and he also got 60 fewer pass rush opportunities this season than Bosa because he dropped into coverage on occasion, while Bosa only dropped into coverage three times, per PFF.

So again, the numbers are close. Where you see the difference in these players in their pass rush abilities is when you actually watch their sacks. As we noted in our matchups piece, Bosa only had two sacks this season against veteran starters. Here's how I scored them, including the playoffs, with half sacks counted as full sacks:

Sacks Nick Bosa Haason Reddick 
Veteran starter 
vs. a backup 
vs. a rookie 
vs. a tight end 
Coverage sack 
Shouldn't have counted** 
TOTAL 19 20 

*Many of Bosa's and Reddick's "unblocked" sacks came on twists/stunts, and they were able to get to the quarterback with speed that the majority of other pass rushers do not possess.

**Bosa blatantly stuck his foot out and tripped the quarterback on one of his sacks, and he was way offsides on another, but for some odd reason the officials missed both of those very easy calls. They should not have counted.

If you're a "check the work" type, you can score them yourselves. Bosa's sacks here; Reddick's sacks here (playoff sacks not included). 

What you'll find is Reddick consistently wrecking the man opposite him, while a lot more of Bosa's sacks were schemed up. Reddick's sack reel is far more impressive. He's a better pass rusher. As for who is the better overall player, that's another debate. Reddick has exceeded by modest expectations as a run defender this season, but he's not Brandon Graham in his prime in that department, while Bosa is widely regarded as one of the better run defending edge player in the league.

As for how to slow Bosa down, Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson will have their hands full, but it's probably more on Nick Sirianni, Shane Steichen, and Jeff Stoutland to make sure that he does not get opportunities to rush the passer unblocked on twists and stunts, because that is where he is most dangerous.

Question from @TheSmartyJones: Rank the opposing QBs the Eagles have faced in all of their NFCCG appearances.

  1. Kurt Warner, Rams: Hall of Famer who was at the apex of his game for this matchup.
  2. Michael Vick, Falcons: The young phenom version of Vick.
  3. Kurt Warner, Cardinals: Late-career resurgence version of Warner.
  4. Danny White, Cowboys: 62-30 career record.
  5. Jake Delhomme, Panthers: Late bloomer who became a back half of the league type of starter who got hot for a couple playoff runs.
  6. Brad Johnson, Buccaneers: Played one good season of ball-control football, and allowed the Bucs' elite defense to win games.
  7. Case Keenum, Vikings: One good season, lucky play against the Saints in the playoffs, overmatched against the Eagles. 

Question from @Jack_Despeaux: If you’re the 49ers, what’s your gameplan? Also, what would you say are Brock Purdy’s strengths? I am very low on him, and uhhh don’t quite see many strengths. 😬

I think he brings a lot of appealing intangibles to the table. He's a rookie No. 3 quarterback forced to start because the top two guys got hurt. Most teams going through that kind of situation would fall apart, but by all accounts Purdy took over the reins with confidence, and he had himself ready mentally. His teammates bought in, and the Niners never broke stride. A lot of flawed quarterbacks have found success in the NFL because of brains.

But as we noted in our matchups piece, from a traits perspective he's not very impressive. He is only 6'0 5/8" with 29" arms and 9 1/4" hands. Those measurements are all well below average, and his passes come out at an extremely low release point. As an athlete, while he is scrappy in avoiding pocket pressure on occasion, he is not a threat to make plays down the field with his legs. As a passer, he does not possess ideal arm strength, and he has been lucky that a large number of inaccurate passes have found their way to the turf instead of in the arms of opposing defenders.

Question from @SteadPA: In your matchups article you noted Brock’s hand size, arm length and height as a negative. I thought it was interesting, until I looked up Jalen’s measurables. Not much of a difference especially in height and hands. Do you see Hurts having some of those same physical limitations?

I think I fielded a similar question as this a year or so ago when I made similar comments about Gardner Minshew's unimpressive physical traits. 

To begin, while Hurts isn't a behemoth like, say, Cam Newton, he is a half-inch taller than Purdy, his arms are ~3 inches longer (big difference), and his hand is a half inch wider (which is a pretty big difference as well).

But forget all that. If you stood Purdy and Hurts next to each other, Purdy would look like a normal dude, while Hurts is a brick s**thouse. He's one of the top three running quarterbacks in the NFL, he has at least decent-to-good arm strength relative to other NFL starting quarterbacks, and his accuracy has gone from a significant weakness when he entered the league, to a strength.

From a physical traits perspective, there really isn't a comparison here.

Question from @89tremaine: Who is an under the radar player that you think can have a big game on Sunday (not allowed to say Milton Williams)? Who is one player that you expect to be challenged by the 49ers matchup?

Ha, I was asked this question on Sheil and Solak's podcast, and Milton Williams was my answer. After a slow start, he made a really impressive play or two in almost every game during the back half of the season. I like his chances against an average 49ers interior offensive line, and I think he can use his athleticism to chase down Purdy when he bails from the pocket.

But if I'm not allowed to say Williams, I'll go with Marcus Epps. Purdy loves to operate in the middle of the field, and I think there could be opportunities for Epps to make a play on an off-target throw.

As for unfavorable matchups, while I believe that Dallas Goedert is a stud and he can have a good game against anyone, the reality is that the Eagles probably won't make him a big part of the passing gameplan against the best set of off-ball linebackers in the NFL.

Question from @EmmGrizzle: If there is no injury designation for Maddox, do you start him in the slot with only three practices, or, assuming a win, let him heal another two weeks?

You play this game like there's no tomorrow. All hands on deck.

Question from Cumbleton: Who are you looking forward to watch at the Senior Bowl?

No Senior Bowl this year. The Eagles' playoff run kinda takes precedence.

Question from @Pick6_: Golden Gate Bridge or the Ben Franklin Bridge? Which has the better view?

The San Francisco Bay Area is one of my favorite parts of the country. More specifically, north of the Golden Gate Bridge (Sausalito, Muir Woods, Muir Beach, etc.) is absolutely gorgeous. I had a little free time when I was out there in 2020, and was walking around by the bridge, which was partially covered by clouds. This picture doesn't do it justice, but it looked very cool.


So with all due respect to the Ben Franklin Bridge, I gotta go Golden Gate.

Question from @ByPatrickWall: Hi Jimmy, big fan. How would you rank the Eagles beat writers based on their ability to **hypothetically** climb a greased pole?

I actually asked a few other beat writers this question, and we were all in agreement the skinnier you are, the easier it would be. I think Josh Tolentino of the Inquirer is a safe answer for pretty much any athletic challenge, and I'll also go with Martin Frank of the Delaware News Journal. Martin is all arms and legs, almost spider-like. Eliot Shorr-Parks got a vote as well, from himself.

Question from @ndutton13: Any goals / plans once the season ends? After the parades of course.

I’m glad you asked this question, because I’m taking my daughter to Universal Studios in Orlando, and I would like to solicit any tips anyone may have to make the trip to the parks more enjoyable. Thank you in advance.

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