You know the numbers by now, but in case you need a refresher: the Eagles tied for the league-lead with 50 sacks last season. This year, they have seven. Only the Jaguars (five) have fewer.
From what we gathered in the locker room, though, it sounds like Bowles’ changes will have more to do with scheme than personnel. That means don’t expect an expanded role for Brandon Graham, or a role at all for Vinny Curry - for now.
“I’m going to get there,” Graham said. “If I haven’t deserved it yet, shoot, I’m going to keep working. Once things open up and I start making a little more plays and putting stuff on paper, I think I’ll get a little more time.”
Graham has played 18.6 percent of the defensive snaps this season, according to Pro Football Focus. But when he’s playing, he’s producing. Graham has half-a-sack and 13 hurries. Those numbers come on just 44 opportunities to rush the passer (further details here).
“It’s frustrating because times like the fourth quarter, when you want to be out there and you know that you could be that guy to make a play, you want to be out there,” Graham said. “It’s frustrating sitting on the sideline towards the end of the game, not being able to be in on that last drive and showing what you can do in that time, that moment.”
Sidenote: To be fair, the question that prompted the response was in the vein of: As a competitor, you have to be a little frustrated, right? It’s not as if Graham was just sounding off.
One way to get him on the field more would be to have Graham play inside in pass-rushing situations, something he did as a rookie. The Eagles haven’t been getting much pass-rushing production from their current foursome of defensive tackles.
“I wouldn’t mind it,” Graham said, adding though that he’s not getting reps as an inside pass-rusher yet. “I’m trying to get in as much as I can.”
Meanwhile, Graham’s teammate, Vinny Curry, continues to wait patiently. The second-round pick has yet to be active for a game this season
“They [the coaches] said it’s just a numbers game – just so many defensive ends here,” Curry said. “So definitely not my ability to play. That’s always good to hear coming from them.”
The Eagles keep five defensive ends active on gamedays – Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Graham, Darryl Tapp and Phillip Hunt. But none of them have missed a game all season, so Curry has yet to get a shot. The Eagles could cut into Tapp or Hunt’s playing time, but the rookie doesn’t sound like he’s expecting that to happen right now.
“I have no idea,” Curry said, when asked when he might get a chance to play. “All I can say is if it’s this season, I’ll just go out there and give it my all. If not, next year, I’ve just got to work in the offseason and try to get better.”
Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at email@example.com.