Eagles defense could make history in Super Bowl 57

PHOENIX — ‘No crush, no rush’ is a slogan the Philadelphia Eagles’ defense uses. The four-word phrase coined by defensive ends and outside linebackers coach Jeremiah Washburn means the defense has to stop the run to earn the right to rush the quarterback. Entering Super Bowl 57, the defense has lived up to its motto.

“If you don’t stop the run, you can’t pass rush nobody,” Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said. “You got to take care of business. Early on, you got to send a message and let them know what the game is gonna be. You got to be the dictators. That’s any defense that wants to win a game, you got to let them know what it’s gonna be for the day.”

The Eagles had the NFL’s second ranked defense in the regular season and the unit hasn’t given up more than seven points in each of its postseason wins leading up to Super Bowl 57. When it comes to rushing the quarterback, the Eagles are on an historic pace.

The Eagles defense has amassed 78 total sacks across the regular season and postseason, the third most in NFL history. Philadelphia is three sacks away from surpassing the 1985 Chicago Bears for the second most sacks ever and five sacks shy of eclipsing the 1984 Bears (82 sacks) for the NFL single-season record.

“I am happy that we are in the talks of potentially being that. That’s what you dream of,” Graham said. “You dream of trying to be the ones who beat the ones who done it before us.”

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Getting to the quarterback is a task the Eagles have specialized in this season. The Eagles are the only team since 1982 (when sacks became an official statistic) to have four different players record at least 10 sacks in the same season. Outside linebacker Haason Reddick compiled a team-high 16 sacks in his first season in Philadelphia, tied for the second most in the NFL. Coming into Sunday’s Super Bowl he has a postseason-high 3.5 sacks, including a strip sack in the NFC championship that injured San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, which dramatically changed the course of the game. 

“We’ve been decent at stopping the run, getting up in the scoreboard, getting teams in must-pass situations and must-score situations that allows us to go out there and rush,” Reddick said.

Along with Graham (drafted in 2010), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (drafted in 2012) is one of the elder statesmen on Philly’s defense. The Eagles are the only team the 11-year veteran’s ever suited up for. He shied away from saying this year’s group is the best he’s ever been a part of. The unit’s cohesiveness is what stands out, he said.

“Hold each other accountable. Be one unit,” Cox said. “The coaches do a really good job about emphasizing why we’re here and knowing we’re good as a group and as a defense – everybody just complementing each other.” 

The group has been stout collectively. They are the first team since the 2000 Baltimore Ravens to allow seven points or fewer in multiple playoff games in a postseason run. Yet it all starts up front with the simple philosophy that they’ve mastered leading up to Super Bowl 57 – no crush, no rush.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Tyler Dragon on Twitter @TheTylerDragon.

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