6 Eagles moves that put them in the 2023 Super Bowl

NFL: NFC Championship-San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles
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Key decisions and moments from the Eagles’ 2022 season that led them to the Super Bowl.

From Day 1 of the offseason all the way up to Sunday’s Super Bowl LVII clash with the Kansas City Chiefs, here is a look at the moments that defined the 2022 Philadelphia Eagles football team.

Signing Haason Reddick to revive the pass rush

There weren’t exactly a lot of great things about the 2021 Eagles, who finished 9-8 and didn’t stand out in many phases, especially when it came to the pass rush. They finished that season with 29 sacks, the second-fewest of any NFL team.

That’s why the Eagles made it a priority to bolster the pass rush in the ensuing offseason, and they did just that by landing Haason Reddick on a three-year, $45 million deal. It was a bit of a risk considering Reddick had just 7.5 sacks across his first 48 games in Arizona after being the 13th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

However, Reddick would break out over the next two seasons, recording 24.5 sacks across 32 games before signing with the Eagles. Was that the guy Philly was getting, or would Reddick lose some of his edge after getting his big payday?

Not only did he live up to the deal, but Reddick also took his game to another level in Philly. He finished the 2022 regular season with a career-best 16 sacks to go with an 81.1 Pro Football Focus grade after his previous high was 72.8 in 2020.

In just two playoff games thus far, Reddick has recorded 3.5 sacks, four QB hits, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.

You’d be hard pressed to find any free agent signing who made a bigger impact on his team this season than Reddick, as evidenced by the Eagles finishing first in the league in total sacks (70) after being almost dead last in the previous season.

The blockbuster trade for A.J. Brown

Coming off a one-and-done playoff trip that ended with a shellacking by Tampa Bay in the Wild Card round, it was clear the Eagles needed to make several splash moves to make the leap from being a fringe playoff team to a legitimate title contender.

After doing so for the defense with Reddick, the offense made its big splash thanks to a seismic trade with the Tennessee Titans for A.J. Brown, one of the game’s best young receivers who instantly became Philly’s best offensive weapon, in exchange for the 18th and 101st overall picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.

They also gave Brown, entering the final year of his rookie contract, a four-year, $100 million extension that should tie him to franchise quarterback Jalen Hurts for the foreseeable future.

Brown finished the regular season ranked:

  • 13th in catches (88).
  • Fourth in receiving yards (1,496).
  • Tied for third in receiving touchdowns (11).
  • Fourth in yards per catch (17.0).
  • Sixth in total yards after catch (548).
  • Fifth in catches of 20+ yards (23).

Along with fellow receiver DeVonta Smith and stud tight end Dallas Goedert, the Eagles passing offense would finish the 2022 regular season ranked ninth overall compared to their ranking of 25th in the 2021 season. They also went from being 12th in scoring offense in 2022 to third this past season.

That trade was such a steal for the Eagles that it also probably helped the Titans GM get fired over it.

Landing James Bradberry from division rival

While Haason Reddick was arguably the NFL’s biggest free-agent signing, and A.J. Brown was arguably the biggest trade acquisition, James Bradberry has a case as the best bargain signing of 2022. What made it even better was it came at the expense of a division rival.

Back in May, the Giants released Bradberry to save just over $10 million in cap space. Though he’s had an up-and-down career, Bradberry has typically been a serviceable starting cornerback, but the Giants decided it was time to move on.

Boy, are the Eagles glad they did.

Just a few weeks later, Philly signed Bradberry to a one-year deal worth $7.25 million. He would finish the regular season with a team-high 17 pass deflections to go with three interceptions and a 74.1 PFF grade, the second-highest mark of the seven-year veteran’s career. Bradberry even finished first in opposing passer rating when targeted (minimum of 20% of the defensive snaps played).

The Eagles also finished as the top passing defense this season and have yet to allow a passing touchdown this postseason. Safe to say this was a grand slam of a signing.

Historical start to the regular season

It didn’t take long for the 2022 Eagles to make history. Prior to this season, the Eagles’ best start ever was their 7-0 start to the 2004 season, and that team went on to make the Super Bowl.

This time, the Eagles hit the 8-0 mark before losing their first game. Their +90 point differential through the first eight games was also the best in the NFC and second only to the Bills (+102) to that point.

Not only was this a great achievement, but it also gave the Eagles a lead in the race for the NFC’s top seed with nine games remaining. That proved crucial down the stretch when Jalen Hurts was injured (more on that later), and the Eagles ended up barely winning the No. 1 seed to earn home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, as well as a bye week in Wild Card Weekend.

Overcoming the Jalen Hurts injury

It looked like the 2022 Eagles could have an unfortunate parallel to the 2017 Super Bowl-winning team in that their starting quarterback suffered a significant injury late in the regular season.

The 2017 team saw Carson Wentz tear his ACL in Week 14 before Nick Foles took over. Though those Eagles struggled to the regular-season finish line, they still won the NFC’s top seed and ultimately went on to win the Super Bowl.

This year, Jalen Hurts suffered a right shoulder sprain vs. the Chicago Bears in Week 15 that ended up sidelining him for two games, both of which the Eagles lost, opening the door for several other teams to potentially win the NFC’s top seed. It also gave the rival Dallas Cowboys a chance to steal the division away.

Thankfully, Hurts returned in Week 18, and the Eagles have won every game since then to make the championship game.

However, Hurts’ numbers have taken a dip, especially when it comes to throwing to the right side of the field. He’s obviously going to play in the Super Bowl, but this is still something to watch since he won’t be 100% healthy vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.

If the Eagles lose and Hurts doesn’t play well, this shoulder injury could be looked back upon as the moment Philly effectively lost the Super Bowl.

Holding off the Giants to lock up the NFC’s top seed

Going into Week 18, the Eagles needed a win to secure the NFC East and the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC. It looked like it would be a cakewalk at home vs. a Giants team resting many of their best players.

However, this was Hurts’ first game back from injury, and it was clear he wasn’t the same as he finished with a 22.8 QBR, the second-worst mark he’s had this season (playoffs included). The offense struggled throughout and mustered up just 22 points, but the defense did just enough to hold the Giants to 16 points and 284 yards of offense en route to a 22-16 victory.

After getting a bye during Wild Card Weekend, the Eagles appeared to get back to form, winning playoff games vs. New York and the San Francisco 49ers by a combined 69-14 margin.

Very nice, indeed.

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