Inside Voices: Graham’s Frustrations Building

Eagles LB Brandon Graham running out with teamBrandon Graham is in his fourth year now, believe it or not, yet in many respects is still waiting for his career to get going.

He has been largely stuck in neutral since being taken with the 13th overall pick back in 2010. The Michigan product has watched some of his peers from that draft class take off to reach All-Pro heights. It is his belief that he will still reach that level. But it hasn’t shaken out for Graham thus far. He had multiple injuries early; underwent microfracture surgery and had his ACL repaired. He has played under four different defensive coordinators (Sean McDermott, Juan Castillo, Todd Bowles, Billy Davis) in as many years, and has simply been unable to capture the form that made him one of the premiere college players in the country.

Where is his frustration level at the moment?


"It's almost at a 10," Graham admitted. "People always throw out the Earl Thomas', the [Jason] Pierre-Paul's and who we could of had and why do they have me. But at the same time, man, I just can't wait to do that, I can't wait to be a Pro Bowler like I know I can. I can't wait to shut everybody up. That will be a big relief to me.

"When I wake up I got it set on my phone: 'Be great.' And I'm really trying to learn how to be great. That's coming in early, trying to be the first one in here. I definitely put my work in, just chipping away, waiting. Waiting. I'm excited though, man, I think I'll be getting my shot pretty soon."

Graham was a pretty potent pass rusher last season. He was the co-sack leader on the team (5.5) and amassed 31 hurries despite being on the field just 40 percent of the time, per Pro Football Focus. This season he has moved to outside linebacker in Davis' 3-4 scheme. He is playing only 25 percent of snaps now, and is credited with one sack and three hurries.

Graham said the most difficult part of the transition has been learning to drop into coverage, but feels he has come a long way in that area.

"Trying to do all the right stuff, just coming in early, getting stuff done and just waiting on my opportunity, whenever that comes. Whatever my role is on this team, I'll do it to my fullest," he said.

"It's tough. It's definitely tough because I know what I can do. It's going to be my time next year for sure."

And will that be here?

"I think so," said Graham. "I hope so."

Eagles fans give home team the road treatment

With the team struggling at home (0-4) and thriving on the road (5-1), Chip Kelly joked that he might just have the buses drive around for a half-hour to simulate an away game this week.

He can count on the fans giving his club the road-team treatment when they finally do pull up to the Linc to complete the experience.

“Sometimes it’s like a road game coming in because our fans don’t really know if we’re the visiting team or home team because we ride a bus in, too,” said Evan Mathis. “Sometimes we’re greeted by our own fans.”

Greeted?

“Uh, they’re telling us we’re number one, with sign language,” he said with a grin. “We’re wearing these shirts [Eagles tees] and we kind of go like this (push the logo up to the window) and they’re like, “Oh, it’s the Eagles. Oh, hey.”

Never really thought about that before, but it makes sense. The buses are unmarked. How would the fans know whether it’s ally or enemy on board? Might as well be safe and assume it’s the enemy, right?

“We see the middle fingers, everything,” said Trent Cole. “All of a sudden someone gets a glimpse [of an Eagles player] and you see their face just change. Like ‘[Gasp], it’s the Eagles! That’s our home team.’ ”

Visiting players and coaches have long told stories of the type of abuse they have taken in Philly, including during their bus rides in. According to the players we talked to, the Eagles bus hasn’t had anything thrown at it to date. Of course, if the 10-game home losing streak goes much longer, that could change.

McCoy’s top 5 RBs

LeSean McCoy took his assignment seriously.

He was asked to name the top 5 running backs in the league right now, and wasn’t about to just start rattling names off the top of his head. He needed to do some research, and so he brought up ESPN.com on his phone and began going through the numbers.

“I’m not even going to tell you the first name I see,” said McCoy, shooting up a playful glance. The 25-year-old leads the league in rushing with 932 yards – 61 yards more than his closest competitor, Marshawn Lynch.

“I have the most carries out of everybody, though,” McCoy added, sounding a little concerned. Then relief. “But I have the highest yards per carry,” giving a Ric Flair, “Woooo!”

After a few minutes, McCoy finally unveiled his top 5:

1) Adrian Peterson
2) Marshawn Lynch
3) Frank Gore
4) Jamaal Charles
5)  Matt Forte

He left himself off the list  for humility's sake. But the guess here is he’d put himself near the top, maybe behind A.P. Maybe.

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  • Joe from Easton

    Shady would definitely consider himself number one if you asked me.

  • BleedGreenJames

    Cry it out my fellow Eagles fans

    • Mr. Wu

      Is that method man standing next to earl thomas? Lol

      • BleedGreenJames

        I’m dead! Hahaha, good eye

      • theycallmerob

        • UKEagle99

          Ahhh fond memories.

        • nicksaenz1

          Method Man is one of those dude’s who seems like he’d be cool as eff to chill w/

      • G_WallyHunter

        mix between method man and cheddar from 8 mile

        • Mr. Wu

          or just cheese from the Wire

    • Mike Mooch

      Haha gotta love Shady here’s my top 5 1.AP 2.Shady 3.Lynch 4.Charles 5.Gore

      • Dan

        Gore’s line is too good he wouldn’t be in my top 5.

    • knighn

      Ah, the Andy Reid era…
      Thank you for McNabb, Corey Simon, Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown, Mike Lewis, Brian Westbrook, Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy. Those were some nice choices. Too bad they generally could not do more with rounds 1 thru 3 in 14 seasons. Wonder if they just would have been better taking the consensus best remaining player whenever they picked!

    • James

      I bring this up every so often. Has to be one of the biggest draft blunders in recent history. I remember shitting my pants when we traded up.

      • BleedGreenJames

        Exactly. Earl Thomas was the slam dunk, can’t miss pick, and addressed a dire need. But nah, Andy and co. have to try and be smarter than everyone else.

        What burns the most is that Thomas was the next pick, Pete and those guys had to be laughing their asses off at us.

      • anon

        Man just throwing that up in his face.

      • Safety1st

        Carlos Dunlap and Darryl Washington were available after the Nate Allen pick. Navorro Bowman could have been had instead of Te’o Nesheim in the third. But who’s complaining? Moving on.

  • G_WallyHunter

    Great piece, as always.
    We’re getting lucky today, the Desean piece and now this, yipppeeee

  • Weapon Y

    No player was hurt by the switch to the 3-4 more than Brandon Graham. I can see now that he isn’t a truly dominating pass rusher like I thought he was. If he was, he’d do great in any system. But he can still be very good. Just not here. I’d do him a favor and trade him to a team with a 4-3 to reward him for being a good soldier. Few players have had to put up with the BS Graham has. Washburn and Babin’s ego. Castillo’s ineptitude. Andy’s cluelessness. And just plain bad luck from getting injured. We could get a 3rd or 4th rounder if we pitch him well. It’s for the best. This is a 3-4 team now and there’s no going back.

    • Joe from Easton

      Sadly, I agree. I like Graham first and foremost as a person, but also a player. The issue is as a player the caveat is “4-3 defensive end”. He was PFF’s number one or two rated DE last year in the 3-4 as far as productivity per snap. Someone would take him and pay a third rounder I think.

    • cliff henny

      no way could eagles get 3rd or 4th rounder for graham. why would a team pay 3.5m for 1 yr rental with limited and questionable production, when these guy are on free agent market for less than half and can control player for multiple years or just draft a younger healthier version. think most are overvaluing him since we attach that 1rd to him, no one else cares the slightest about that.
      .
      rest of it, argee…guy was delt a crappy deal with injury. to bad, was excited when they drafted him, was a beast at michigan.

    • morgan c

      Doesn’t anyone else find it curious though that this pick was panned mostly because he “projected as a 3-4 OLB” and not a 4-3 end, as we drafted him? Am I the only one the remembers this? He was “undersized” for a 4-3 end, but started to really show flashes last year. Honestly, I know it may not happen, but I really hope he puts it all together next year and plays well as a 3-4 OLB.

      • Eagles4Life

        Exactly. Everyone projected him as a beast 3-4 OLB and a maybe at DE. He spent half his career trying to bulk up to be a DE and then had to drop all the weight again to be an OLB. It’s been a wild ride for him thus far, but at least he’s hungry.

        • UKEagle99

          Dropping weight makes anyone hungry.

    • GoBirds1

      We will get nothing for him his rookie contract will be up

  • jabostick

    I wonder where Moreno ranks

    • theycallmerob

      #knowshon sucks, brah

    • EaglePete

      hes slowly turning into a servicable player at least. He had a hard first few seasons. At least hes put the work in since then and is playing at a higher level. I live in Denver, so I hear a ton of Bronco talk radio and he was not well liked for a while for how high he was drafted. I dont think he has the natural gifts to be a top guy though, hes really just benefiting from a Manning team now. At least he worked and got himself to be a player at least, for a while there he looked like a total bust.

      • EaglePete

        did I say at least enough times

        • Andy124

          I counted at least 4 at leasts. At least you recognized your at least abuse. :)

    • anon

      In Peyton’s offense if you can hold on to the ball you can be really productive and unlike other offenses Peyton tries to run first to set up play action. I think he’s good, but given what AP does with what he has i don’t think it’s even close.

  • GEAGLE

    Don’t know what to think of Graham’s transition yet…not enough time has passed and not enough opportunity has been given to him yet for me to say what he can’t or can grow to be, especially since it seems like since day one this coaching staff was hell bent on benching him for Cole…he hasn’t been given enough opportunity and the guy in front of him is simply not good enough, so he isn’t the only one who is frustrated…had him n Cole been given 50-50 snaps and Cole outplayed him, It obviously be easier for me to write him off. But to me, it seems like Cole was playing and Graham was sitting regardless and that gives me a glimmer of hope for him. not sure why Graham would think that next year will be the year for him here, when Cole is still under contract?

    • anon

      Goo players play — Currys got increased snaps. I think if the coaches saw something in practice / the the game they’d give him more time. That said you have to be on the field to make an impact.

    • nicksaenz1

      Maybe Howie gave him some inside knowledge on future plans? I kid. I do think that if either Graham or Cole goes this offseason, it’s Cole.

  • ICDogg

    No one is going to give up much for Graham with his knees.

  • ACViking

    “Graham was a pretty potent pass rusher last season. He was the co-sack
    leader on the team (5.5) and amassed 31 hurries despite being on the
    field just 40 percent of the time, per Pro Football Focus.”
    ____________

    Tim McManus . . . are there ANY qualifiers you want to offer to your characterization?

    You’re relying entirely on PFF’s stats, it seems.

    What about double-teams? Did Graham face any?

    He rushed from the left, typically (if not always) against the weaker pass-blocking OT, right?

    Did he get any sacks just blowing around the edge?

    Or was everything just a “bull rush”? After 3+ years, how many moves does he have?

    ____________

    Maybe Graham’s as “potent” as DeMarcus Ware. I don’t know.

    But I’d love to see more than just “here’s what PFF” says in characterizing Graham.

    • Stormbringer

      Hi AC,

      He was also listed as the most productive pass rushing 4-3 DE in the league per snap last year per Football Outsider’s Almanac. NFLAdvancedStats also has him very productive per snap. People gripe about PFF giving him props but the other sites doing this correspond with what they say.

  • doc

    when Graham was beefing up why didn’t they give him a legit shot at DE instead of losing weight and “trying” OLB; he had some impressive in-game stats for time played

    • theycallmerob

      He was already tabbed as undersized by many as a 43 DE, even more pronounced as a 34 end; coming out of the draft, some thought he’d make a good OLB. Cox and Thornton are both 6’4″ and 300+; Graham’s about 6’1 and 270

      • doc

        not prototype but still VERY disruptive with getting to the QB; how big is Curry?

        • theycallmerob

          According to the Eagles website, 6’3 280, wonder if that is the updated total since camp (when he’s been putting on weight).
          Hard to say without knowing the role Davis asks of his OLBs in this 2gap, but I wonder if they had not gone all the way to 34 2 gap (say, stayed as a one gap, or even some hybrid like seattle) would Graham be better at that “predator” spot- essentially, a standup full-time pass rusher

          • doc

            I don’t know. My impression was Graham was quick from the down position and thus disruptive in the backfield. Would have loved him and Curry as opposite DEs. Total chaos back there. Go Eagles.

          • theycallmerob

            Would have loved him and Curry as opposite DEs

            Boy, they sure would be a handful on passing downs.
            Do you see that in this year’s scheme, though? or did you mean in a D more like last year’s 43? Because if they are both DEs, where do Cox and Thornton go?

          • doc

            Cox/Thornton start and Curry/Graham occasionally backup as a tandem when you want to go killa style. Go Eagles

  • Myke Lowery

    seems Graham thinks Cole will be gone next year.

    • nicksaenz1

      I think so, too.

  • Will

    Shady…Just Do It Again NEXT Sunday…

  • Scott J

    I’m surprised they didn’t trade Graham or Cole before the season started. Now, the value of both has dropped.

  • Adam

    I love BG, nice guy, loyal soldier, but I just never had a ton of confidence in him. I know he played well in a limited role but I had my doubts he was good enough to be a full time starter. I know a lot of people might not agree, that’s just my opinion. I think he’s repertoire of moves is limited to the bull rush and sometimes an outside spin move, which would leave him much more suited to come off the bench and face a tired tackle or one that has gotten used to someone else.

    And this has nothing to do with Earl Thomas either. I don’t dwell much on stuff like that. I honestly wonder if Thomas would have been as good as he is now if he came to that shit show of a defense. We’d all be wishing we would have drafted Graham instead.

  • SoCalEaglesFan

    Four different coordinators and not one of them saw Graham as a starter. And what was it, three of four different D Line coaches too? You sure smell like a bust from this vantage point, Mr Graham.

    I’ve read stories about Graham’s “frustrations” for four seasons now. Think about how frustrated the fans are every time they see Earl Thomas go to another pro bowl.

    Does anyone really believe that if the Eagles base defense was a 4-3 that Graham would be starting this year, or next year, or the year after that? The reality check says he wouldn’t. It’s pretty hard to make a pro bowl from the bench. And four coordinators have now judged Graham unworthy of a starting job.