I don’t really want to do this post, but feel obligated since it’s Eagles-related and the aggregator accounts spread the Haason Reddick “chasing sacks” story all over the internet, with little context:

Jeff said this on 97.5 the Fanatic, so I went back and listened to the segment to get the full context.

The longer quote is this, with my emphasis in bold:

“… (Reddick) kind of struggled down the stretch, and I think there (were) some concerns about him, concerns about whether he’s chasing sacks. He’s never been a great run defender. Guys hit the edge, and he wasn’t alone in terms of struggling down the stretch, especially after they made the switch at defensive coordinator. Again, you can see the argument for the Eagles not wanting to restructure his deal. Now, they had to do something this offseason, because $21 million cap is not what they wanted to pay him. They were in a situation where they wanted to redo something as well. But he wants to get paid more, and the question of about whether this deal is good or not is going to come down to what the Jets end up giving him, right? If he signs a one-year deal, then you’re like, ‘okay, well couldn’t the Eagles have done that?’ If he signs a long term deal, which I think it will be, then you can understand why both sides agreed that something like this needed to be done.”

(John Kincade asks a follow up question, if the chasing sacks thing alludes to Fletcher Cox talking about players “freelancing” at the end of the year)

“I guess if Josh Sweat hadn’t looked around, because he as well had permission to seek a trade, if he had found something better and moved on and the Eagles found the compensation they wanted in return, then maybe they would have been inclined to keep Haason a little bit more. But once I think Josh Sweat returned, obviously they moved ahead and got Bryce Huff to come in as well, then I thought it was a foregone conclusion that Haason would leave. Again, I don’t know if what they have is better, I think the Eagles are projecting Bryce Huff to be a better player than he has been in his first four seasons, and they’re thinking that Haason Reddick is on the decline. To answer your question about chasing sacks, I think yeah, certainly I don’t know if that’s specifically what Fletcher Cox was referencing, but I’d heard from people in the organization that Haason was one of the guys they thought was doing that, I think Josh Sweat as well, I think to some extent. But this could have been avoided if Howie Roseman had decided to restructure Haason’s deal. I think you can look at this both ways. Would he have felt under those circumstances that he had to get a higher number of sacks because he’s gonna have to get paid in the offseason? Maybe if you had given him some sweeteners in his deal, like they did for Brandon Graham in 2015 I believe, maybe he would have performed a little more. I can see it both ways. Fletcher, I don’t know specifically it was him, he was a guy at one point in his career I think the Eagles thought the same thing about him as well. So it happens. You understand why guys are doing that, because sacks are so important to how they get paid.”

Makes more sense with added context. If Reddick felt like sacks were a measuring stick for what he could earn in a new deal, then maybe he went chasing sacks. And people will say “well, he’s a defensive end, isn’t the whole point to sack the quarterback?” Yeah, sure, but the thought here is keeping contain, and pursuing the quarterback and losing the edge can have negative results. You don’t want to overcompensate while wearing sack-blinders and bite on play-action, or watch the QB escape to the inside or outside.

The bigger issue here is how we view sacks vs. how the experts view sacks. You can have a fantastic pass rush win rate, but a low sack number. Doesn’t mean you’re a bad player. Maybe it means other guys feasted on bad quarterbacks who held on to the ball for too long. Imagine you were an edge rusher for the Bills in 2011 and had to play Tom Brady twice a year, or any other QB who gets the ball out quickly. Your sack numbers might be lower than guys playing in a less division against lesser QBs.

Sacks aren’t the greatest metric for edge rushers. You gotta use the eye test as well.