Two of the best defensive fronts in the NFL will be on the field on Sunday in the Steelers-Eagles game. Both teams have premiere players upfront in T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward in Pittsburgh and Fletcher Cox and Brandom Graham in Philadelphia, just to name a few. The Eagles lead the league in sacks and the Steelers rank second with 15 sacks in just three games played. The Eagles are not only talented up front but they have incredible depth with a seven-man, eight-man rotation.
"I don't think there's any doubt about their D-line being very good," Steelers' offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said. "They've been solid for a long time and they keep adding pieces to that puzzle. They're gonna run ya two-deep at the position, it's been a signature of Coach Schwartz.
"It's interesting because we've done a lot of business against Coach Schwartz over the years. His defensive line is always one of those penetrating, physical, pass rush. It's one of the few teams in the league that can rush four. They're leading the league in sacks and they generally rush four."
One familiar face the Steelers will see on Sunday is Javon Hargrave, who signed a three-year, $39 million deal with the Eagles this past offseason. Hargrave rotates with Malik Jackson on the vaunted Eagles' defensive line.
“It’s most definitely the top pass rushes in the game,” Hargrave said. “It’s just so deep. There’s multiple guys that can pass rush on both teams. I’m coming from the Steelers, and being with some of the great pass rushers, to coming to the Eagles and seeing some of the great pass rushers, too. It was really eye opening just to see how both of these teams are getting to the quarterback.”
One of the big matchups going into Sunday's game will be the battle between Eagles' right tackle Lane Johnson, who's been dealing with a left ankle injury this year, against All-Pro outside linebacker T.J. Watt, who has 3.5 sacks, five tackles for a loss and 10 quarterback hits through three games this season.
“Man, T.J.’s a dog,” Hargrave said. “That’s all I really told everybody. He’s got different ways he can beat you. But he’s going against Lane (Johnson). That’s two heavyweights I look forward to watching.”
Hargrave will be looking forward to getting the opportunity to sack his former teammate in Ben Roethlisberger. Something that obviously was off-limits when he was in Pittsburgh.
“You can’t touch Ben, we never got a chance to touch Ben,” Hargrave said. "You get too close to ‘7’ and you’re in trouble. I just look forward to trying to be able to bring him down. to finally be able to touch him and bring him down. If we give him a lot of time, he can make a lot of plays.”
There's no doubt that Sunday's game will be won in the trenches and both defensive front's main objectivity is to do whatever they have to do to win the game, but at the same time, they will try to showcase why they are the best defensive line in Pennsylvania.
“We definitely want to show out and show up more and get more sacks, have more fun, borderline of taunting a little bit,” Jackson said. “I think we do want to go out there and show that we are the best D-line and show that we are the best team in Pittsburgh – sorry, in Pennsylvania.”