The Philadelphia Eagles' pass rush was nonexistent throughout the 2021 season, a major reason why Jonathan Gannon's defense struggled to get off the field and good quarterbacks compiled a high completion rate. Philadelphia finished with the second-fewest sacks in the NFL with 29, despite finishing tied for 15th in pressures with 197.
Simply put, those numbers aren't good enough. General manager Howie Roseman knows it.
"I have to learn from some of my mistakes I've made in the past, so in terms of talking about strengths of a draft class, I don't know that I want to go there. There are good players at every position in this draft," Roseman said at the NFL Scouting Combine this week. "In terms of the sack number, it's also how you want to play, right? And for us, we want to get pressure on the quarterback. It's not only the sack numbers, you know that. There are other ways to judge that.
"But the bottom line is we didn't get enough pressure on the quarterback. We have to have pressure on the quarterback. We have to continue to have pressure on the quarterback. It's a priority to us. We'll have opportunities this offseason to do it, and I would be very surprised if we didn't do something there."
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The Eagles will seek to upgrade the pass rush in free agency or the draft, having $18.9 million in cap space and three first-round picks. Josh Sweat (7.5 sacks, 43 pressures, 13 quarterback hits) and Javon Hargrave (7.5 sacks, 58 pressures, 18 quarterback hits) are returning to anchor the unit -- with Brandon Graham also back from a season-ending Achilles injury. Fletcher Cox (3.5 sacks, 41 pressures, 12 quarterback hits) should also be back, but the Eagles need an impact pass rusher or two to get to the quarterback more consistently.
Haason Reddick, Emmanuel Ogbah, Harold Landry, Charles Harris, and Rasheem Green should be intriguing free agent options, while the Eagles will also have their picking of a pass rusher to develop with one of their first-round picks. Finding rookies to contribute right away will be the tough task for Philadelphia, which may be why it chooses to enter the free agent pool in Gannon's second year.
The way Roseman views it, the Eagles are on borrowed time with Gannon.
"He's a phenomenal coach, a phenomenal person, and really excited that we're going to have him back because we're probably renting him," Roseman said. "He's that good of a coach and that good of a person. But I think when we look at it, the way that we're playing defense and the way that he wants to play defense and our coaches want to, it's something that's sustainable. It's not like we're drafting guys for specific roles that won't adjust if in the future we had to do something different.
"I think that's important, because we don't want to get in a situation where if we lose one person, now all of a sudden, we have to start over from scratch. We can't do that. You can't do that in this league. So, I don't think that's going to be an issue."