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Javon Hargrave knows his next step after career year


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Javon Hargrave knows his next step after career year


Javon Hargrave experienced a lot in 2021.

Not only did the Eagles’ defensive end have a career year but opposing offensive lines began to treat him like it. So there was a learning curve as the season went on.

But the secret to Hargrave’s success wasn’t much of a secret.

"He worked his butt off,” Fletcher Cox said.

Well, there ya have it.

Hargrave, 28, came into his second season with the Eagles healthy, which made a huge difference. Because he started off really hot.

After six sacks in the first five games of the season, opposing teams began to play Hargrave differently. And instead of all the double teams going toward Cox, those opposing teams began to slide protection Hargrave’s way and double him.

"It just means you’re getting a lot of respect from the other team,” Hargrave said. "That speaks volumes for what they think about me. I don’t let it frustrate me. I just do the best I can to try to beat it.”

After that quick start, Hargrave had just 1 1/2 sacks the rest of the regular season but still finished with a career high 7 1/2 sacks and he added one in the playoff game in Tampa.

So what’s the next step for Hargrave?

Well, it’s going to start by understanding that extra attention will continue to come his way. Then he has to figure out how to get better at dealing with it.

"It’s a lot I can be better at,” Hargrave said. "Some of my hand placement or just even learning more about the game, how I can beat certain blocks or get quicker. Just learning how different people are going to play me so I can mix up some of my stuff to throw them off. I’m gonna just relax for a few months and get back to it.”

Hargrave didn’t smash his previous career high of 6 1/2 sacks but he still beat it in 2021 and finished with career highs in sacks (7 1/2), tackles (63), TFLs (9) and QB hits (18). Statistically speaking, this was by far the best year of Hargrave’s six-year NFL career.

The production clearly tapered off the second half of the season but Hargrave thinks he continued to play well even after the sacks dried up. Things undoubtedly got tougher on him without seeing all 1-on-1s.

"I think I improved a lot,” Hargrave said about facing double teams. "If you watch the film, you can see sometimes I was winning those double teams on a pass rush. I just learned, talking to Fletch or [Brandon Graham]. I was just learning how to take it sometimes. I feel like I got better as the season went. Just because the production wasn’t there for me, I felt like I won a lot of blocks, a lot of my matchups so that’s a big thing for me.”

It’s hard to believe but Hargrave has already finished two seasons in his three-year, $39 million contract with the Eagles. In 2022, he’ll enter the final year of his deal with a base salary of $12.75 million. So he’s a prime candidate for an extension already.

While there are some long-term questions about Cox’s standing in the organization, his contract status makes it very likely he’ll be back in 2022. So the Eagles will have one more season with Cox and Hargrave in the middle of their defense.

Before every game, Hargrave and Cox walk out for warmups together. They’ve gotten close in their time together and Hargrave gives Cox a ton of credit for his improvement.

"I understand the game a lot more just playing beside him,” Hargrave said.

Hargrave smiled when asked about Cox and said he couldn’t divulge all the tips Cox gives him because he doesn’t want to give away any secrets. But in general terms, Cox seems to have a great understanding of how offensive linemen will attack the Eagles’ front. That information has been invaluable to Hargrave.

And if there’s one person who can help Hargrave understand how to deal with double teams, it’s Cox, who has spent years dealing with them himself.

"Those little conversations just elevated his game,” Cox said. "Super excited for him. He had a really good year.”


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