Just a few days after the Eagles signed Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph, both newcomers played significant snaps in the Eagles’ 17-16 win over the Colts.
Joseph played 26 snaps (40%) and Suh played 17 (26%), which is pretty impressive, especially since both 13-year vets hadn’t been on a team all season.
So how were the Eagles able to get them ready in such a short amount of time?
Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon explained it on Tuesday morning, first giving credit to defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, who put in extra time to get the guys caught up.
But then Gannon had another more under-the-radar reason.
“I think the other piece to that puzzle that allowed them to come in and play is the versatility and the flexibility of the other three up,” Gannon explained. “I’m talking about Fletch (Cox) and (Javon) Hargrave and Milton (Williams).
“We kind of left Suh and L.J. in two spots within the certain fronts, and those guys plugged and played around them, which helped them that they didn't have to know everything. So that was huge by those guys. Again, those guys that are up, they're smart and they're versatile, they can play different spots.
“I think that goes by the wayside, but that's a huge piece to those guys being able to play that fast coming in here.”
Eventually, Joseph and Suh will learn more positions, Suh especially. And we might see the rotation go through an evolution. But it’s a good thing to note that the Eagles were able to plug and play these guys in their first games because of the talent and versatility already at the position.
And it’s worth noting that the rest of the interior D-line played extremely well in this game. Cox had his best game in weeks and Williams had his most productive game of the season. Hargrave continued to find success.
Williams had a sack, 4 tackles, 2 TFLs and a quarterback hit. He said after the game that the additions of Suh and Joseph only helped him.
“Of course,” Williams said on Sunday after the game. “Because you want to play up to the standard that they’ve been playing at for their careers, including Fletch and Hargrave. It just motivates me to elevate my game and do what I’m supposed to do.”
In addition to the work from Rocker and the versatility of the Eagles’ incumbent defensive tackles, Suh and Joseph obviously deserve a ton of the credit for being ready in a few days. While playing defensive tackle isn’t the hardest transition to a new defense for experienced players, they still had to learn a lot of new terminology and make sure their bodies were ready for a game after being out for as long as they were.
And now that they got through their first game, it’s probably fair to assume that Suh and Joseph will see their workloads increase. That seems especially true for Suh.
It’ll be up to Gannon and Rocker to figure out the rotation going forward. And eventually, they’ll add Jordan Davis back to that mix.
“I think with both of those guys coming here, that's what they wanted to do,” Gannon said, “… Tat's football character. It's like whatever you need us to do to help our team win, that's what we'll do.
“Their roles will change just like everybody's weekly, depending on game plan, who's up, who's not, all that stuff, and they'll come in and they're ready to go. I think both of them want to play a little bit more. It's always good to have as many guys that we can have up and fresh and hunting, the better off we are.”
Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast