This addition is clearly related to concerns about the Eagles’ run defense following the Jordan Davis injury. After allowing 109.8 rushing yards per game through the first six weeks, the Eagles have allowed 157 rushing yards per game over the past three.
Philly tried multiple options to try to replace Davis. They temporarily elevated Marvin Wilson (Big Marv) from the practice squad for the Houston Texans game. But they clearly didn’t love what they saw from him, opting not to elevate him again for the Washington Commanders game. The Eagles used starting Marlon Tuipulotu as the nose tackle and giving Milton Williams more playing time. They also increased snap count percentages for starters Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. [UPDATE: While this original story was being written, NFL insider Mike Garafolo reported that Tuipulotu is going on injured reserve.]
By signing Joseph, it’s clear that the Eagles felt like they didn’t have an in-house answer to allow them to keep playing the five-man fronts that defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon wants to utilize.
But is Joseph definitely the solution?
He certainly fits the profile of a run-stuffing nose tackle at 6’4”, 330 pounds. And he has a track record of success as a two-time Pro Bowler with 56 tackles for loss in 171 career games played.
Just finishing up a second review of Linval Joseph's season, only this time I made some cut-ups. When I graded Joseph after the season, I gave him the highest tackling grade out of 104 DTs. Not only an elite run-defender holding the point/controlling the LOS, but also in pursuit: pic.twitter.com/szpAIevAkj— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) July 13, 2018
Of course, that clip is five years ago now. Joseph turned 34 years old in October. He played for a Los Angeles Chargers run defense last year that tied for allowing the fifth-most yards per rush attempt. Joseph became a free agent after the 2021 season and remained unsigned until now. He did work out for the New York Jets back in October but the Eagles might find there was a reason he was still unsigned in mid-November.
The realistic hope is that Joseph can come in and stabilize the Eagles’ run defense to some extent as they embark to face some tough running backs over the next several weeks:
- Week 11: Jonathan Taylor
- Week 12: Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon
- Week 13: Derrick Henry
- Week 14: Saquon Barkley
One would hope that the Joseph signing is not a sign that Davis isn’t ready to return as soon as he’s eligible to be activated from injured reserve in Week 13. But even if Davis is good to go, it could make sense to add Joseph for depth purposes.
Schefter reported that Joseph believes he’s ready to make his Eagles debut this week as the Birds take on the Indianapolis Colts. We’ll see if that’s the case.
Note that the Eagles had an open roster spot after placing Avonte Maddox on injured reserve prior to Monday night’s game.