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January 05, 2023

Can Haason Reddick win the Defensive Player of the Year Award?

The Camden native has been the leading man for a defense that will go down as one of the best pass-rushing units ever

With the splashy trade for A.J. Brown and the big draft night selection of Jordan Davis, one particular Eagles offseason move went under the radar: signing linebacker Haason Reddick to a three-year contract with $30 million guaranteed. Brown has put up a Terrell Owens 2.0 act and Davis looks to be an integral piece of the team's defense for years to come, but Reddick has forged his own path, a dominant force on a D that's second in yards allowed and eighth in points.

Reddick was named to his first Pro Bowl this season and deservedly so. He should be an All-Pro. To be frank, he should be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, too. 

For a franchise that's seen elite pass-rushing performances over the last three-plus decades, Reddick stands tall among some Eagles greats. 

Reddick's 16 sacks are tied for the sixth most in a season for an Eagle (per StatMuse). He trails three all-time Reggie White seasons, Clyde Simmons' 1992 First-Team All-Pro campaign, and Jason Babin (bleh). 

He's the leading man for a defense that will go down as one of the best pass-rushing units ever. The Birds have already smashed 1989's franchise record of 62 sacks in a season, now up to 68 with one game against Daniel Jones and/or Tyrod Taylor remaining. The Eagles are just four sacks shy of the 1984 Chicago Bears' single-season team record of 72. This defense recorded seven sacks against the Giants back in Week 14. The likes of Richard Dent and Dan Hampton should be worried about being knocked out of that high distinction. 

As much as Reddick stacks up against the best in Eagles history, he's shining across today's NFL statistically. Reddick is second in sacks and tied for first with five forced fumbles (plus he has three fumble recoveries of his own). He is a game wrecker. He's causing chaos with turnovers while continuously thwarting opposing QBs' hopes of climbing back into games against the Eagles with that whopping sack total. 

He's going to work. Look at how those numbers compare to recent elite pass-rushers:

Game wrecker!

So, can Reddick actually win Defensive Player of the Year?

As for "can," I'd say no. He trails the 49ers' Nick Bosa in sacks for now (Bosa has 17.5). Reddick does not have the same college pedigree as Bosa, a star before he even walked onto Ohio State's campus because of his family. That's much different from being a former walk-on at Temple. Reddick was not a top-two pick like Bosa. Reddick wasn't an elite player immediately in the NFL, totaling just 7.5 sacks in his first three NFL seasons, mired in the mediocrity and obscurity that comes with playing in places like Arizona and Carolina.

Over the last three seasons, however, those in the know have seen Reddick transform himself. He has 39.5 sacks in that span and counting. That's culminated in a mini homecoming for the Temple product and Camden native in 2022, back playing at Lincoln Financial Field, causing havoc and giving offensive coordinators nightmares. 

If Reddick's last name was Watt or Bosa, the media would be rallying around his Defensive Player of the Year cause. He'll be punished for a 2022 award for not being as great in the years prior. That's obviously nonsense.

According to Reddick himself, "they" hate to talk about his accolades:

So, should he win the award?

Bosa's going to win, but Reddick's credentials are clear.

No Eagle has won the award since Reggie White in 1987. No Eagle has even gotten a single vote for it since Brian Dawkins in 2002, finishing third. The odds are against Reddick here. 

So, Bosa probably wins. If Reddick puts up a two-sack performance against Brock Purdy and the Niners in an NFC Championship, however, I'm sure Eagles fans would call it a wash. 

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