Soft-spoken Javon Hargrave isn't terribly fond of talking about himself, but when he had the kind of day he had against the Atlanta Falcons in the Eagles' season-opening 32-6 win, the defensive tackle is going to be asked about how he played.
On Sunday, he played just fine, collecting two sacks, which tied a single-game career-high, which was set just last December against the New Orleans Saints.
"I always expect great things (from myself), but I’m more happy we got a great win," said Hargrave. "We were happy seeing (the offense) score points and move the ball like they did. It was a great great team victory, seeing them score points and seeing us making great stops and special teams making plays. It was a great feeling overall."
Pairing Fletcher Cox with adequate talent alongside him in the interior was proven to be a challenge of consistency for Howie Roseman.
Once the Eagles fully committed back to a 4-3 defense under Jim Schwartz, Roseman and company took it upon themselves to invest a ton of resources into the defensive line, especially the interior.
A combo of Bennie Logan and Beau Allen was deployed the first year under Schwartz and immediately had to be upgraded. Tim Jernigan was Roseman’s first stab at getting their DT2, though it did not last due to the interior rusher’s laundry list of injuries.
Malik Jackson, a decorated veteran, was the next significant investment Philadelphia made at the position. But after only appearing in one game his first season with the team in 2019, the Eagles quickly turned their sights to securing Javon Hargrave on the open market while delivering the brinks truck to his door.
Hargrave had an up-and-down first year in midnight green.
A pectoral strain during training camp hindered Hargrave’s ability to comprehend the new system he was thrust into during a pandemic-filled football season with no real training camp or getting to know the team.
"Last year I was just sitting at home," he said. "They went down to play Washington, I was sitting home. That was my first time missing a game ever in my career. So it’s a great feeling to be out there with my teammates, getting two sacks and getting the win."
Hargrave, 28, didn't notch his first sack of 2020 until Week 13, though he had three prior games where he was credited with a half-sack.
He finished his first year with the Eagles with 37 total pressures, and 28 quarterback hurries to go along with four and a half sacks. Hargrave also possessed the third-highest win pass rush win rate coming in at 17.8 percent trailing only Los Angeles Rams Aaron Donald (24.6 percent) and Kansas City Chiefs Chris Jones (21.5 percent), according to Pro Football Focus.
Patience is a virtue that has been completely lost in the NFL as the league has become a ‘what have you done for me lately’ sport. A player like Hargrave, who was in a completely different defensive system with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was asked to eat space more so than attack the quarterback, always had the talent to become what the Eagles paid him to be.
Posting two sacks and three quarterback hits while adjusting to the run on the fly is only the tip of the iceberg for Hargrave. Yes, Atlanta’s interior offensive line was an inferior opponent, but don’t let that take away from the fact that Hargrave looked like the best defensive lineman on the field Sunday.
After having a monster training camp while being completely healthy and a purely dominant performance the first week of the season, there’s no reason not to expect this level of play to continue for Hargrave.
The reshuffling of the defensive line looked the same Sunday as it did under Schwartz, which again keeps your pass rushers fresh. Being second fiddle to Cox's reputation and talent will only provide better individual matchups working in Hargrave’s favor.
He played 40 snaps (56 percent), which was only one fewer than Cox, while rookie Milton Williams logged 1, Hassan Ridgeway 26, and rookie Marlon Tuipulotu had six.
But it would appear that the search for an adequate running mate for the long-time best player on Philadelphia’s defense in Cox has finally come to an end.
Hargrave has arrived for the Eagles, and the dominance he possessed on Sunday isn’t going anywhere either.
So, he can expect to be asked even more questions about himself as the season rolls on.
Conor Myles covers the Philadelphia Eagles for SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-hosts the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast on Bleav Podcast Network. Reach Conor at ConorMylesSI@gmail.com or Twitter: @ConorMylesSI
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.