Graham, Curry State Their Case

NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Heading into Thursday’s game, Billy Davis was asked if it is frustrating that two of his top pass-rushers — Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry —  are not natural scheme fits and therefor must see a limited amount of snaps.

“I don’t think anybody’s a full‑time player.  When you’re talking d‑line to me, I don’t view full‑time and part‑time players.  There are different two‑gap schemes and gap-penetrate schemes where we’re rushing, they all fit.  Those pass rushers fit,” he said.  “It’s just different sections of the scheme that we use.  I’m very impressed.  Those are two good pass rushers you’re talking about.”

There has been plenty of talk about how long Curry and Graham will remain in Philadelphia considering that they are both edge 4-3 rushers playing unnatural positions in a 3-4. Curry is undersized to be a pure two-gapping defensive end, and Graham isn’t fluid enough in space to be the type of versatile outside linebacker that this system craves.




What they can do is rush the passer, maybe better than anyone else on the team right now. The Eagles have sacked the quarterback five times in three preseason games. Curry and Graham are responsible for four of them (two apiece) and Alejandro Villanueva, a longshot to make the team, had the other. Things like level of competition need to be factored in when talking about preseason numbers, but there's no question who has had the highest success rate getting to the QB. Graham and Curry had a sack each against the Steelers. Both came against Pittsburgh's first-team offense.

Graham's was a strip-sack at the end of the first half, as he was able to bull his way into the backfield and past his defender before crashing down on Ben Roethlisberger's throwing arm.

BG 1

BG2

They teamed up for a takedown in the third quarter. Graham brought pressure off the edge, forcing Roethisberger to step up.

Curry2

And Curry cleaned up.

Curry1

That was on 3rd-and-12. Getting off the field on third down was an issue last season and through the first couple preseason games this year. Lack of pass rush has been the main culprit.

Graham and Curry can rush the passer. They might be limited in other areas, but that skill set alone should be enough to keep them on the team and in the rotation.

Graham' status has been the most in doubt. But between his strong showing this preseason and the fact that Marcus Smith doesn't seem ready to take on a big role yet, the chances of him sticking have probably improved.

"I'm just trying to make this team and secure a spot because I know how great we can be," said Graham. "I'm happy but I can get better and that's the thing, it's like, man, I'm here, I know I'm going to get better every week, my attitude and focus is all about the team. I know we can take it to the next level. I want to be here to see us win a championship. I want to be part of that."

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  • https://twitter.com/richcolton RichC, brings duck to cockfigh

    This is how we’ll see them this year. Limited snaps in obvious passing situations, regardless of how much QB pressure we get otherwise.

    Here’s what won’t happen (before the suggestions even pop up)
    A) won’t be traded for 5th round draft pics
    B) won’t be “promoted” into starting lineup
    C) won’t be packaged for Dion Jordan

    • B-West

      Here’s to hoping the offense is even better in year 2, they put points on the board, and the obvious passing situations for the opposition go up. I want to watch more of Curry and Graham this season.

    • MagatBrackendale

      Not really understanding the blind, passionate love for Dion Jordan anyway. Two years in the league (yes with the wrong scheme) and yet some folks seem to think he is still the brand new 1st round rookie with unlimited upside.

      As for the rest, didn’t the current Super Bowl champions have a rotating cast of D linemen last season?

      • OldDuckMcDoc

        Dion’s only played one season, although granted we all know how he’s going to do in the first four weeks of his second. Don’t get the love for him either though. Looked decent in coverage at times last year but as a pass rusher I didn’t see much to drool over.

        • Jerry Pomroy

          I’m not banging the table for the guy but he is a player that works better in space rather than butting heads in the trenches out of a 3pt stance, especially at 6’6″. I personally think he’d be a better LB now with the added girth and coaching as a DE. But it’s hard to say unless it actually happens where he changes scheme & position.

          • hokieduck

            6’7″. He also was injured for the first half of his rookie season last year. He has tremendous upside. Very fast. Wide wingspan. Perfect drop end for the 3-4.

      • SoCalEaglesFan

        I don’t think there’s a single Oregon Duck making an impact in the nfl. Someone correct me if I’m wrong but none of those players skill set transfers to elite NFL status. Oregon only produces role players and special teams guys. Dion Jordan will be no different.

        • MediaMike

          Byrd?

        • Piatz1019

          TJ Ward, Max Unger, Jarius Byrd

          • anon

            kiko alonso, blount

          • MediaMike

            He has to prove he can come back from a bad knee issue first.

          • anon

            hopefully he’s terrible, bills cut him and chip can pick him up.

          • MediaMike

            See Jackson, Marlin.

        • Breathe 21

          This is absolutely the most ridiculous comment ever made on this site. Are you serious?

          • MediaMike

            Challenge accepted!

          • southy

            SoCal Eagles fan. I think that says all you need to know.

          • MediaMike

            Not a dead give-away. If it was Notre Dame or Florida State Eagles fan, I’d know they’re stupid.

          • southy

            Let me spell it out then – a USC fan might have some pre-conceived ideas about Oregon players being worse than they actually are.

          • MediaMike

            That’s true, but I wanted to point out that Notre Dame and Florida State fans are the scum of the universe.

          • Eagles4Life

            Hey…watch your mouth, buddy.

          • MediaMike

            Never! While I’m at it Ohio State, Michigan, and Pitt fans are also potential knockout victims.

          • Eagles4Life

            LOL what is your college team?

          • DirtyWaters

            I pretty sure I run the ridiculous comment racket on this site.

        • moesus

          TJ Ward
          Jairus Byrd
          Kiko Alonzo
          Walter Thurmond
          Haloti Ngata
          LaGarette Blount
          Kyle Long
          Max Unger

          • Ramsay

            Can’t forget about the great casey matthews! The lineage is incredible!

          • Dominik

            But besides one of the Top NT over the last ten years, two good Safeties, the best Rookie Defender last year, the slot cornerback and Center for the SB champion and one of the best young Guards in this league – I don’t think any Ducks make an impact. So, essentially, you fail to make your point.

            Also, you forgot Casey Matthews. Shame on you, mate.

        • unhinged

          Does Haloti Ngata qualify?

        • hokieduck

          Hahahahaha. That is pretty funny, SoCal. Just the Defensive ROY last year, along with another Pro Bowl Rookie lineman, Kyle Long and, of course, Haloti Ngata just to name a few off the top of my head.

        • dnabrice

          Your assessment of Mariota as well? Must be Chips scheme that’s so amazing.

      • NineseveN

        Same issue as the passion for Curry and Graham, players projected for one scheme playing in another who happen to shine in role playing situations and some fans want to project them to greatness if only the player was [a scheme fit] [on the field more] [more liked by the coaching staff] [not on a crappy team] [not hampered by injuries] etc…

        Curry and Graham project best as 4-3 Defensive Ends who rush the passer like 99.9% of the time. The truth is, the Eagles don’t run that defense. Curry and Graham are therefor limited to the size of the role they can play since they can’t do what we ask of our 3-4 DEs and they can’t do what is needed of our 3-4 OLBs in our base packages. So they’ll see the field in obvious passing situations (3rd down) and have a limited, rotational role. I don’t see either of them being amazingly great 4-3 DEs on another team though. I guess we’ll see.

        Eagles fans need to deal with the fact that our team is being modeled after the Patriots (3-4 bend not break) defense rather than Seattle’s. Kelly believes that he can beat the NFL with offense by simply limiting big plays on defense. Again, I guess we’ll see.

    • Dominik

      You really wouldn’t trade Graham for a 5th? Man, Chips stupid statement about not caring about the future (altough he certainly does, don’t know why you need to hide that thought) seems to find some followers in the fanbase.

      • https://twitter.com/richcolton RichC, brings duck to cockfigh

        would I Dom? yeah, at this point I probably would. My point is, its not going to happen.

        Over/under for combined Graham/Curry sacks this year 10.5.

    • dnabrice

      Last year there were a good number of 2nd and longs in addition to third and longs, and as long as the opposing team isn’t in a hurry up, we should be able to get Graham and Curry in there.

  • B-West

    Part of the issue with getting these guys on the field is getting Cole/Barwin off. Hopefully the coaching staff has a more realistic outlook on their pass rush abilities. I like what Cole and Barwin bring to this team and the defense, but those guys do no need to be on the field this year in passing situations.

    If you want to reward those guys for doing the dirty work on 1st and 2nd down, let them share snaps as the fourth down lineman with Cox, Curry and Graham. Those 3 have to be on the field for pass rushing situations.

    Finally, just because Chip will run it on 3rd and 5 doesn’t mean the rest of the league has the stones to do it. In fact, against 80% of the league, I’d bring in my pass rush specialists against 3rd down and 3 or more yards.

    • anon

      haha i would run the ball bc curry doesn’t always maintain his gap responsibility and graham can’t set the edge. just like we run a ton of screens and sweeps other people can do it too. if you have people that can only rush it’s easy to work around that especially against our terrible secondary. good to have rush but you can’t always sell out for for it at the expense of your scheme.

      • MediaMike

        Or you could just run no huddle and not allow the Eagles to sub their pass rush guys onto the field.

      • B-West

        Maybe it’s too many years of watching Andy throw on 3rd and short, but it does seem like most of the league treats 3rd down as a passing down regardless of the yardage.

  • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

    funny. one week we’re hearing they aim to stay more in base. now, they have varied-scheme personnel packages with deep rotation.
    Graham-Curry-Cox is a likely 3man front. Barwin, Kendricks, Smith behind them 3-3-5 nickel. Add Cole and take away Smith for another look. Really hope Graham and Curry see action this year.

    • peteike

      I thought Cox finally looked decent and made some plays. Scheme and opponent matters, who knew

    • Eagles4Life

      I think Billy re-evaluated during his evaluation process and saw that move wasn’t going to work consistently.

    • Rockedupeaglesfan

      Do you think that is a likely 3 man front? I think its an intriguing one that fans would like to see, but I’d be surprised to see it become a staple. The frustrating part is, I don’t know why they won’t just cut those guys lose on passing downs.

    • johnr

      Yeah. Wasn’t Davis talking about mirrored OLBs? Maybe it’s an all smoke and mirrors defense??? Actually I am cool with keeping Graham and Curry. Obvious passing downs were an obvious problem for us last year, so obviously I would welcome them on 3rd and long.

    • Rick H

      Good players play! Curry & Graham are good players! Eagles biggest need this year and almost any year is a good pass rush.
      Curry & Graham produce EXACTLY what the Eagles need in an urgent way.
      WHAT IS DAVIS MISSING???
      1+ 1= 2 (pass rushers) EAGLES # 1 need!

      • paul from nc

        It’s another one of those “football decisions”

  • Kev_H

    It’s hard not to root for Brandon Graham after those comments.

  • Adam G

    According to Adam Kaplan’s tweet last night, the pass rusher next year could be Jason Worilds.

    • MediaMike

      If they’re going big bucks for a guy likely to hit the market next year at OLB I’d prefer Orakpo.

      • anon

        taking steelers players might be easier scheme transition.

        • MediaMike

          Haslett is a former Steelers guy and runs a 3-4 in DC.

      • Adam G

        He just confirmed that Eagles were very interested and planned on signing him if he wasn’t a transition tag. Would be huge surprise if he wasn’t a free agent next year. Steelers are in cap hell right now.

  • MediaMike

    I fear for our pass rush when both of these guys are on the bench and we face teams that go no-huddle and don’t allow us to substitute based on down and distance.
    Thankfully the only teams we play who have the talent to execute that type of attack against us are Green Bay and Indy.

  • John E. Zang

    Screw the scheme! Adapt to the talent you have instead of just nullifying your pass rush. Having a good pass rush is paramount to getting off the field especially without having to blitz all the time. Love Cole and what he gave but he doesn’t have it anymore. Not as an OLB at least. The ol’ steelers scheme is a bit obsolete with teams passing more. Stopping the run is big but turnovers and attacking an offense makes the difference see Seattle for reference.

    • John E. Zang

      The thing that bothers me is that they have a few more than capable pass rushers but are used sparingly and not together. Cole should be used in 43 sets with other rushers. They have some versatile lineman that aren’t being used creatively in favor of the scheme they’re trying to fit into.

      • peteike

        the scheme should work better this season in terms of disguising whos coming. The safety play will help that and I think we finally saw just a little last night. The 3-4 is actually better for covering spread attacks according to some so my guess to why they are going that way. At least they werent getting torched, night and day compared to Pats game. Gave me a little hope at least that they can get to the QB.

        • MediaMike

          I’ll still contend a 4-3 where the front 4 can win battles at the point of attack on a consistent basis allows the back 7 to play better football. I’d think watching this team in 91 would put that to rest.
          I do think a 3-4 is a much better way to cover up for a roster that lacks talent on the line.

    • MediaMike

      This is exactly the reason people thought they were going to play 4-3 under until they had a true home run hitter at OLB.

      • Eagles4Life

        The 4-3 under has 2 gapping principles on the strong side, so there still wouldn’t be much room for Curry or Graham on the field unless you took away Cox and Cole.

        • RIP illa

          Yeah the strong side where are weakest pass rushes are. But it frees up the weak side to shoot gaps and rush. That means freeing up Cox to rush along with Cole/graham, instead of having him delay to read the run. That right there would make a world of difference in our pass rush, along with Davis’ penchant for A gap blitzes.

    • anon

      sceheme isn’t predicated on pass rush it’s predicated on TOs. Rush is part of that but it’s not the 1st priority. that said can we get an all 22 breakdown of times we used 3 vs 4 man fronts? be interesting to see if they just expanded the times we used 43.

  • H

    Trent cole will be cut at the end of this season unless he takes a massive pay cut. I think that graham could easily fill his shoes and will see a lot more opportunities if cole is gone. You can’t have too many pass rushers

    • Michael Myers

      I don’t think that cole is nearly the liability that graham is in coverage so I don’t see graham “filling his shoes”. That said, I think graham has much more upside rushing than cole does at this stage in his career.

    • MediaMike

      Cole’s salary, and the ability to devote that money towards frontloaded extensions for young guys, makes him a for sure cut at the end of the year;
      but I’m not sure if that means Graham will be back.

    • peteike

      Cole will have most sacks on team again, book it. Im a gambler and thats my dumb guess

      • Michael Myers

        I’ll say curry, despite limited snaps…

      • Javi Echie

        Couldn’t agree more with you Pete. I understand the obsession with Graham and his rushing stats look good in limited snaps but he is in no way the player in space that Cole is, and even Cole is not good in space so that shows how bad Graham is trying to cover anything. Also the writing has been on the wall since we transitioned to a 3-4 that Cole wouldn’t be seeing that big money at the backend of the contract.

    • igglesfaninportland

      Graham will be free to walk next year, Birds get a compensatory pick since they sign few F.A. and Graham could get a nice payday providing Birds with 3rd rounde Compensatory pick. Curry could get the same treatment, but stands a better chance at sticking with the birds as a rotational player. I see both provididng compensatory picks. igglesfan now in Bristol Bay. Games start at 9 am sunday morning, yet I will still have coldy in hand for kick off.
      Oh yeah Dion Jordan will not make it in the NFL because he cant set the edge.

    • Richard Schubiger

      I believe they are grooming Marcus Smith II to be Trent Coles replacement

  • Breathe 21

    The best pass rusher on our team is Kendricks. If we run more dime defense on 3rd & long, that would allow us to blitz him from all over. We would also have Graham, Currry, and Cox all on the field to go with it. Now that we have Jenkins who is legit in man coverage, Carroll who should start, leaving Fletcher as our Dime Corner, we would improve on 3rd downs drastically.

    • MediaMike

      Who are the other guys in your front group besides Kendricks if we run dime?

      • Breathe 21

        I would go Cole, Cox, Curry, and Graham up front. Kendricks at LB. Williams and Carroll outside. Boykin and Fletcher at nickel and dime. Jenkins and Allen at Safety. Possibly Wolf as a single high because of his range. Using Jenkins in man coverage where he excels

        • MediaMike

          That would get some heat on the QB potentially, but if a team checking into a run play, we’d be giving up 20 yard gains all over the place.

          • cliff h-MOAR white goons

            ran it last night with good effect. dime against 4wr and 5wr sets.

          • Breathe 21

            If teams are gashing you for 20 yd runs on 3rd & long, you’re just a sorry defense with horrible tacklers like the Dream Team.

      • Breathe 21

        This would also give you the flexible to “all out” blitz from anywhere using Fletcher, Kendricks, Allen, Boykin, or Jenkins. Excluding Allen, all of those players are comfortable in man coverage.

        • MediaMike

          I would feel much better about that if any of the guys in the front 5 you have on the field would be able to cover.

          • Breathe 21

            Kendricks can cover. Especially, RBs out the backfield. The only other assignments he would have would be over/under coverage with a Nate Allen or Jenkins over the top. 4 DL that excel in pass rush with they’re hand in the dirt, the supreme athleticism of Kendricks, 5 DBs who are all solid in man coverage, 1 S in single high over the top in a 3rd & long situation should get the job done. Idk what scenario would be better than that.

    • Jerry Pomroy

      Eh, I dunno. I wouldn’t call Kendricks a “pass rusher”. I’d say he’s a good inside “blitzer” though, if that makes sense.

      • MediaMike

        Well I know I don’t want him covering TEs on passing downs, so blitzing him doesn’t seem like a bad move.

      • Rockedupeaglesfan

        True I don’t want him matched up with OTs coming off the edge, but I like the idea of using him as a 4th rusher out of odd fronts. He has that burst off the ball like Vinny Curry, even if he’s coming from the second level.

        • Jerry Pomroy

          We don’t see enough overload blitzes. This is an area where a guy like Kendricks & Smith would shine and in the case of Smith add some early value. Let these guys come off the edge protected in behind Barwin/Cole or from out wide to try to get some free looks at running down the QB.

          • Rockedupeaglesfan

            My hope they are just keeping things vanilla. They need a way to find a way to get early value out of Smith. He seems fine in coverage, but he’s too one dimensional at this point. You can’t beat NFL tackles with a straight speed rush, when they know thats all you have.

      • cliff h-MOAR white goons

        right, in a shot out of a cannon type way.

        • Jerry Pomroy

          We need more tone setting plays out of guys up front. If that means more blitzing, so be it. Having guys like Jenkins, Smith, Watkins, etc should free up more A-gap blitzing from Kendricks.

    • Jerry Pomroy

      BTW, I am agreeing with you on Kendricks. Just think the terminology was a little off. I’d love to see him blitzing & attacking gaps more. I think Ryans drop in effectiveness in coverage limits our ability to utilize Kendricks in attacking. But with those other guys (Jenkins, Watkins, Smith, etc) we should be able to see him attacking the backfield more often.

      Speaking of ILBs, I hear that Harbaugh & Ozzie are more than happy with a certain ILB some were hoping (including Chip) would be there when we picked in 1st rd.

  • BlockingBack

    Pls explain why BGraham slotted at OLB, where he ‘s lost in space, and not as a 2-gap DE? He’s strong. What’s his limitation in that role?

    • Jerry Pomroy

      He’s way undersized for 3-4 DE and doesn’t have the arm length either to occupy multiple blockers. Plus he’s just not an interior D-lineman in either front (3-4 or 4-3). You wouldn’t move Cole inside and they’re basically the same size. Curry was effective both at DE & DT in 4-3, but is better at shooting gaps than turning the corner.

      • BlockingBack

        Same size as Curry, admittedly not ideal for 3-4 DE, but much stronger than Curry. Then again, initially surprised they left Curry on the line.
        Also, didn’t Graham rush from inside on wide-9 obvious passing downs?

  • cliff h-MOAR white goons

    Curry i get. maybe not 1st and 10 base, but more 2nd and longs, every 3rd and 5+, basically typical nfl passing downs. Graham is doing what he did at end of ’12, beating up inferior players. Cole is pacing himself, or should be. let me see Cole going 100% and Graham against all 1st teamers before going crazy here.

    • Andy Six Score and Four

      fwiw, Graham’s bull-rush strip-sack came against the Steeler’s starting tackle.

      • cliff h-MOAR white goons

        great, not rooting against guy. just i dont see curry and graham the same. curry flashed all last season. graham did very little. think he’s solid nfl player, but no way should scheme or defensive calls be rearranged around his talents.

        • Andy Six Score and Four

          No argument here.

  • 370HSSV 0773H

    You have to wonder how much better the defense would be if it stayed a 4-3.

    • Brian

      The only problem is that the 3-4 is better suited for today’s, and tomorrow’s, game. The 4-3 doesn’t lend itself to defending mobile quarterbacks, or spread formations. That’s why 3-4 teams will mostly use 4-3 formations on obvious long yardage passing downs, where speed (of the linebackers) can close the gap, between the LOS and the first down, when there is a breakdown.

      Edited- Added ()

  • Brian

    Btw, I’m watching the game again, and I really do not like Ben Rapeserburger.

    • Samson Tollet

      He didn’t rape anybody, nit wit.. He just showed his wee wee

  • Rambler

    Curry spiced Graham (crackers)?

    • Brian

      That’s just wrong.

  • paul from nc

    In the 3 preseason games, we had 5 sacks.
    And we’re talking about getting rid of Curry and Grahman. We already cut Vilanueva.
    They are the only players with sacks. If we trade them, the team will have no one with a sack in preseason.
    God help us!