PHILADELPHIA – With Isaac Seumalo now calling Pittsburgh home the mythical title of the most underrated player on the Philadelphia Eagles may have shifted to the defensive side of the football and Josh Sweat, a player who has developed into one of the better edge rushers in the NFL.Graded by PFF as the 12th-best edge player in the NFL last season – a year after finishing at No. 21 – the ascent continues for the six-year veteran. A quiet, unassuming nature, coupled with playing alongside high-profile teammates like Haason Reddick, Brandon Graham, and Fletcher Cox has kept Sweat, 26, under the radar, however.
A two-way player, No. 9 of 118 in run support and No. 16 of 115 chasing quarterbacks per PFF, it’s not crazy to predict Sweat becoming the best player of the deepest defensive front in football, a group which added the imposing talent of Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith in the draft.Last season the defensive front helped produce 70 sacks as the Eagles became the first team in NFL history with four players getting double-digit sack numbers. Sweat, of course, was a charter member of that group with a career-high 11.
Sweat generally doesn’t do a lot of talking about himself but did say he wanted to add a little weight to his imposing 6-foot-5, 265-pound frame which looks straight out of central casting for an NFL pass rusher.
The thought behind that sentiment is that Sweat tends to lose some weight during the season and the rigors of a 20-game Super Bowl campaign are still fresh.
Sweat noted he felt good even with the extra workload, though. He played 19 of 20 games, sitting out only the regular-season finale, and handled an extensive role for the second consecutive season finally putting to rest concerns over a serious leg injury he suffered as a five-star, high-school recruit coming out of Chesapeake, Virginia that changed the trajectory of his college career at Florida State.
Sweat is so gifted he couldn’t really pin down what he’s looking to improve.
“S***, I don’t know,” Sweat smiled on Wednesday at the NovaCare Complex. “Just trying to get better. Like I said, just refine my technique, just keep doing the things that have worked and just building on it and doing it more.”
When it comes to talking about others Sweat opens up a bit more and is excited about what Georgia teammates Carter and Smith will add to the front.
“The work ethic is pretty crazy for both of them,” Sweat said. “They’re already working. Shoot, they’re professionals, man. Like it’s actually surprising coming out of college.
“But they’re working. They’re just here to learn and they’re making improvement quickly.”
Last season the Eagles’ defense was No. 2 in the NFL and No. 1 in pass defense. Change is not only a part of the modern NFL it’s a given and the 2022-23 unit lost defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, now the head coach in Arizona, and five starters to free agency, Javon Hargrave, T.J. Edwards, Kyzier White, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps.
“I mean right now, the mentality is just pretty much we’re at the bottom again,” Sweat said. “That’s just how we have to look at it. We can’t really think about [the Super Bowl LVII loss to Kansas City]. We went, we didn’t win.
“Everybody’s starting over. We’re at the bottom. That’s how it is.”