At some point in Sunday’s 27-17 loss in Washington, Matt Pryor had to be watching Josh Sweat thinking, “I told you!”
Because when Sweat had the practice of a lifetime against Pryor at left tackle in the scrimmage at the Linc this summer, everyone assumed it was because Pryor couldn’t play left tackle. And maybe he couldn’t.
But maybe Sweat is getting better too.
And with plenty of injuries to their defensive end group, the Eagles have to be hoping Sunday’s game was just a sign of things to come.
In Week 1, the lanky third-year pro had one of the best games of his career against Washington. He played 49 snaps, the most of his career, and piled up 3 tackles, 2 QB hits and a strip sack.
“You guys saw him in training camp,” defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said Tuesday. “He's one of our most improved players. I thought Vinny [Curry] was playing really well in this game. The combination with those guys, keeping a good rotation, trying to keep all those guys fresh, was working out pretty well.
“Sweat was able to come in on some third downs and be fresh, look speedy and explosive. It was a hot game. There were a couple times we were back on the field after one play. It was important to stay fresh in that game.”
But now Curry is on IR with a hamstring injury, Brandon Graham has a concussion and Derek Barnett is still getting over a hamstring injury that has kept him out since the start of training camp.
No matter what happens, the Eagles are going to be relying on Sweat a ton in the coming weeks. If he can continue to do what he showed against Washington, the Eagles might be on to something.
That strip-sack against Washington, as he ducked under left tackle Geron Christian in the third quarter, was the highlight of the game for Sweat and if the Eagles jump on that ball, they might have won the game. But he also played well the entire afternoon.
Take a look at what he was able to do:
Schwartz on Tuesday repeated a baseball analogy about Sweat he used earlier in the summer. He compared Sweat to a pitcher who needed to find a “repeatable motion.” Sweat needed to find consistency and it looks like he is starting to.
Sweat, a 2018 4th-round pick, took a huge jump in 2019 and he’s off to an even better start in 2020:
2018: 9 games, 68 snaps (7%), 1 tackle
2019: 16 games, 352 snaps (35%), 21 tackles, 4 sacks, 7 TFLs, 10 QB hits
2020: 1 game, 49 snaps (70%), 3 tackles, 1 sack, 2 QB hits, 1 FF
“He's always had a lot of ability, but like a lot of other players he just needed to refine his game a little bit more,” Schwartz said. “I think he's going to be a big contributor for us this year.”
While the Eagles haven’t yet seen Barnett live up to his potential as a first-round pick, Sweat could become one of their best fourth-round picks in quite a while. It took the Florida State product a while to get going but in Year 3, he looks ready to take off.
The Eagles could certainly use it.