Javon Hargrave May Soon Have Opposing Coaches Scheming for Him

The Eagles other DT has been the team's best defender early in the 2021 season, playing at an All-Pro level
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PHILADELPHIA -  For now, Fletcher Cox remains first and foremost on the minds of opposing offensive coaches when they start game-planning for the Philadelphia Eagles defense.

If Javon Hargrave continues to play the way he has during the first two weeks of the regular season that could change, however.

The "other guy" on Philadelphia's defensive interior, Hargrave has been Jonathan Gannon's top-graded player over the first two weeks of the regular season, according to ProFootballFocus.com.

Among all NFL interior defensive linemen, Hargrave is No. 3 behind his old teammate in Pittsburgh, Cameron Heyward, and LA Rams superstar Aaron Donald, a player regarded by most as the league's most dominant defensive player.

For years Cox has been in the conversation as the best DT in the NFL not named Donald, and that reputation still exists as evidenced by the first two games where Atlanta's Arthur Smith and San Francisco's Kyle Shanahan put games plans together that defaulted to sliding protection toward Cox, a six-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time All-Pro.

Hargrave, in fact, always smiles when talking about opposing protection schemes.

On Friday, Hargrave was asked if he expected the slides to continue to go in Cox's direction as more and more teams weigh Hargrave's production.

"I mean I hope so," Hargrave said. "I hope they keep doubling him and letting me get them but I mean you just have to pick your poison."

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Hargrave acknowledged that he's probably playing the best football of his career in what is his sixth pro season.

"I feel like I'm at my best then I've ever been in my career," said Hargrave before pivoting to the understanding that it's about what have you done for me lately in the NFL. "I just want to keep rolling and focus on this weekend and see what I got."

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Hargrave noted that playing time is part of the equation when it comes to his early-season success.

"I think I'm definitely growing every year. Just learning a little more as time goes," he said. "Like I said, I know a lot more than I did at Pittsburgh plus I play a lot more than I did at Pittsburgh."

Hargrave has been on the field for 90 snaps through two games, 63 percent of the defensive total, and amassed 12 tackles, a team-leading four for loss, and a team-leading two sacks for what is the fourth-ranked defense in the NFL.

"I mean [I'm] just really locking in," he said. "Kinda just going away from what everybody was saying about me, I mean, and just locking into my craft and just showing up on Sunday and putting it out there."

His next test is a Dallas interior O-Line that features a potential future Hall of Famer in Zack Martin at right guard, as well as LG Connor Williams and center Tyler Biadasz.

"I mean, it's a veteran group," Hargrave said. "A lot of 'dem boys played a lot of football but we up for the challenge. We just ready to show what we got on Monday."

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-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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.