Eagles Wake-Up Call: On Graham And Curry

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Brandon Graham
knows exactly how much playing time he received in 2013.

“Twenty seven percent [of the snaps], right?”

Right. Or 353 of a possible 1,307 defensive plays. That’s obviously not the kind of workload the former No. 13 overall pick envisioned for himself.

“It’s one of them things where you can’t control it, but I tried to make the best out of the opportunities I got, and I guess we’ll see about my future whenever things start to happen,” he said.

Vinny Curry, similarly, is out for a bigger role. He played 337 snaps, or 26 percent of the time. He started off the season as an inactive on game day. His agent was open to a trade. There were reports that the Eagles were listening to offers for him.

“I think I shut all that up,” said Curry. “At the end of the day it was going to be what it was going to be. At the end of the day I’m an Eagle, I’m glad to be an Eagle. I was highly productive for our team and just want to continue to get better.”

These two players were affected by the scheme change as much as anyone. Both natural pass-rushing defensive ends, Graham converted to linebacker while Curry bulked up almost 30 pounds to play as a 3-4 down lineman. Despite their limited playing time and position changes, Curry finished third on the team in hurries (11) and sacks (4) while Graham added three sacks, five hurries and a forced fumble.

Billy Davis‘ defense is not an ideal match for either player and, truth be told, their careers probably have a better chance of blossoming elsewhere. But they are both under contract at pretty manageable prices for next season (Curry is scheduled to make about $700,000  and Graham $1.6 million) and  Howie Roseman sees the value in both players.

“You have to give great credit to the coaching staff because, I think we talked about this in the offseason, normally when you change schemes, have such a drastic scheme change, you have a bunch of players that maybe don’t fit, and they did a great job of trying to accentuate the strengths of some of the players here that we had drafted,” he said. “And I think when you talk about both of those guys, you talk about guys that can get pressure on the quarterback. And I think another year of transitioning into the scheme will help those guys, and at the end of the day they’re good players who have a unique skill set in an area that’s hard to find.”

Graham, a former first-round pick, and Curry, a second-round selection, both intend on being starters in this league. More than that, they have Pro Bowl aspirations. So far, they’ve only obtained supporting roles.

“I want to be here, but at the same time I want to be a starter, too. If that works, if that’s the plan for me, I would love it,” said Graham. “But if it’s not, I guess somewhere else wouldn’t hurt.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

One national voice gave Chip Kelly a “C” for his efforts this season.

Sheil uses the All-22 to show why the offense stalled against New Orleans.

The Eagles signed center David Molk to a futures contract Thursday.

Once again, Roseman and company are on the hunt for safety help.

What’s the next step for the defense? Kapadia takes a look.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Jeff McLane says the Eagles probably won’t restructure DeSean Jackson‘s contract.

There has been speculation that the Eagles may be open to restructuring Jackson’s deal to lower the 2014 salary cap number in exchange for more guaranteed money. While that is possible, it is also unlikely to happen, the source said.

The Eagles have close to $20 million in cap space as they head in to the offseason. While Jackson put up career numbers in coach Chip Kelly’s first season, he faded in the final three games of the season.

Pro Football Focus gave its first annual Bruce Matthews Award (best lineman of the year) to — you guessed it — Evan Mathis.

If you didn’t already know it, Evan Mathis is the best offensive guard in football, and has a real case to be the best offensive lineman in the game, period. This season he was again some distance clear atop the guard rankings and played well enough to earn a spot on the shortlist for our Offensive Player of the Year Award.

Consistency is the thing that separates Mathis from the rest of the field. While other players have down games, players they struggle with or games that you find yourself looking to ‘throw out’ when evaluating their seasons, Mathis hasn’t had a game with a negative overall grade in three years as a starter. You have to go all the way back to Week 17 of the 2010 season where the Baltimore Ravens handed him a -0.3 mark. His only game graded in the red during the PFF era came way back in 2009.

COMING UP

Sheil checks in with the rookies to get their take on the year.

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