Ten defensive players have secured Super Bowl MVP honors.
Haason Reddick could join that list this weekend.
Signed by the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason, Reddick has put together a career season, as his 16 sacks represent a career-high mark. The pass rusher also forced five fumbles this year, also a career-best.
With Reddick in the mix, the Eagles have been one of the best pass-rushing defenses in the NFL this year, particularly when rushing four or fewer upfront. According to charting data from Sports Info Solutions, the Eagles recorded 203 pressures this season when rushing four or fewer, the sixth-most in the NFL during the regular season.
They also pressured the passer on 34.6% of their snaps when rushing four or fewer, fourth-most in the NFL.
In the playoffs, Philadelphia managed to kick this up a notch. When rushing four or fewer, the Eagles pressured opposing passers a stunning 60.5% of the time. Of course, this occurred over just a two-game sample — blowout wins over the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers — but these numbers illustrate what Jonathan Gannon has at his disposal: A pass-rushing unit that can cause problems for the opposing offense, with minimal resources required.
Studying Reddick this season, you see the complete picture of the modern pass rusher. He combines athleticism and explosiveness off the edge with a well-rounded tool kit as a defender.
It does not take long to find an example of him flashing this impressive combination.
Take this first play, from Week 17 against the New Orleans Saints. This is the first of Reddick’s two sacks in that game, and here he is working against right tackle Landon Young. Watch as Reddick uses a “snatch” move against Young, getting his hands into the defender before getting him off-balance, and finishing with a sack of Andy Dalton:
In the fourth quarter, Reddick tallied his second sack of the game, this time getting to Dalton courtesy of an inside spin move:
This is a fantastic play from Reddick and offers a great example of a pass rusher coming to the table with a plan. Reddick stresses Young’s outside shoulder, getting him to open up and expose the inside lane. That’s when Reddick hits him with the spin move. By stressing Young to the outside, Reddick creates both the lane — and the opportunity — to beat him on the inside.
During Philadelphia's Week 15 win over the Chicago Bears, Reddick brought a few more moves to bear against Chicago (pun intended). First was the rip move, which he used against tight end Cole Kmet to get to Justin Fields on this second-quarter sack:
Later in the game, Reddick flashed his power, and length, against right tackle Alex Leatherwood. Watch as the pass rusher closes down the space between him and the tackle, before beating him to the outside:
One last example of Reddick’s ability off the edge comes from Philadelphia’s Week 14 victory over the Giants. Working against right tackle Evan Neal, Reddick uses a chop move on the tackle, violently smashing his right arm down on Neal’s forearms and getting the tackle off balance:
Beyond the chop move Reddick uses here, you also see his vision, and awareness, as a pass rusher. As he bursts in off the edge, Daniel Jones tries to climb the pocket. Reddick spots that and cuts inside of Neal, getting home for the sack.
At this point, you might have noticed a common thread among these five examples.
They all come against the right tackle.
In fact, the bulk of Reddick’s production this season has come working off the right side of the offense. According to SIS charting data, 56 of Reddick’s pressures this year — and 13 of his 16 sacks — have come with him operating on the right side of the offense. Reddick has also aligned on that edge for 721 of his 907 snaps.
Standing in Reddick’s way on Sunday? Kansas City Chiefs right tackle Andrew Wylie. Wylie began his career on the inside, but settled into the right tackle role during the end of 2021, and earned the starting job for this season. According to charting data from Pro Football Focus, Wylie has allowed nine sacks this season, fourth-most among tackles this season, and most on Kansas City.
Studying those sacks, you see some common elements to those we have seen from Reddick. On this sack from Maxx Crosby back in Week 18, you see Crosby hit Wylie with the rip move, bending around the edge to get to Patrick Mahomes:
Here against the Buffalo Bills in Week 6, Von Miller uses a spin move to the inside, much like we saw from Reddick against the Saints:
Then to round things out, on this sack from Week 18, Sam Hubbard of the Cincinnati Bengals uses a chop move of his own against Wylie, before beating the right tackle to the outside:
Right now, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, Reddick has the best odds of any defensive player in Super Bowl LVII to win MVP, sitting at +3500 and just ahead of Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones.
That still puts Reddick behind both quarterbacks, as well as Travis Kelce, A.J. Brown, Miles Sanders, DeVonta Smith, and Isiah Pacheco.
Still, this game might be set up for Reddick to put in a huge performance. As we will discuss later in the week, the Eagles are one of — if not the most — complete teams in the NFL. They can beat you in a number of different ways. On defense, it starts with their ability to pressure with four. It is a tired old cliché, the ability to pressure with four.
But Philadelphia can do that, and Reddick is a huge reason why. If he has the kind of game that is possible, he could join a very exclusive club at the end of the night.