If you do the math and check out the NFL actuarial charts, you come to only one logical conclusion.
Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham should be happily enjoying his retirement now.
Not terrorizing Carson Wentz or other NFL quarterbacks.
Graham is 34 years old, the second-oldest Eagle, and coming off a catastrophic injury, a left Achilles’ tear, an injury that often ends the careers of aging pro athletes. Graham went through a grueling and stressful rehab and said he reported to camp in great shape and grateful to be playing at all.
Graham is a vocal, fun-loving team leader whom coach Nick Sirianni singled out during training camp as helping keep the team motivated. The Eagles went to 3-0 with a 24-8 beatdown of the Washington Commanders on Sunday.
- “You can see how much it means to them that they have that ‘C’ on their chest, that they have that captain on their chest,” Sirianni said about veterans Graham and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.
- “Whether it’s B.G.’s constant energy of how happy he is to be there every day, and he doesn’t take a day for granted, he works like crazy every single day, worked like crazy to get back from his injury.”
ONLY 27 SNAPS
Graham is in 13th season. Against the Commanders, he played only 27 snaps. He made the most of his opportunities, which were 35 percent of the defensive plays.
He had 2.5 of the Eagles’ nine sacks against Wentz, who continued his career tendency of holding onto the ball too long, giving defenders time to swarm.
Graham also had six tackles, five quarterback hits, two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a batted pass.
- “We just made it about us,” Graham said. “We knew what we knew about Carson. We knew it was a new day, he’s with a new team. He knows his issues, too.
- “We just wanted to go out there and play as a team and just keep getting better. Our standard is our standard.
- “We got a nine-sack game and we were out there having fun. We just want to win because we know how hard it is in this league.”
DEPTH ON THE LINE
The Eagles enjoy excellent depth across the defensive line and utilize a steady stream of substitutions. They dominated the Commanders without Derek Barnett, who was injured in Week Two against the Vikings.
“It’s pretty unbelievable the depth that we have, the amount of good players that we have there,” Sirianni said.
“So of course … it keeps the guys fresh. You’re able to pin your ears back and get after the quarterback in those pass situations when you are fresh.”
The Eagles’ defense has made a dramatic turnaround in their three games. After giving up 35 points to Detroit in the opener, they held Minnesota to seven points and Washington to eight. The Eagles are ranked seventh in points allowed (16.7).
- “The defense … we just want to make sure we just keep getting better,” Graham said. “Like the first game we played Detroit, we kinda let off a little bit.
- “I was happy that kinda happened. Because that let us know that we got a good team but you see if we don’t put our foot on the gas, we’re just an average team.
- “If we don’t take care of what we got to do — that’s our responsibilities and trusting one another. I’m just happy how we just keep getting better.”
The Eagles have shown they have a dynamic offense — ranking fifth with 28.7 points per game. Jalen Hurts and his receiving corps have moved the ball almost at will and the run game has been solid, ranking seventh.
There will be stronger defenses to face, days when the first downs and points are more difficult to come by. For a team with visions on a deep playoff run, that’s when a stout defense can save a game.
- “I told you all year there’s going to be games where offense carry us, defense carry us, special teams sometimes make a play that puts us back in a game,”Graham said.
Graham has said he wants his career to continue beyond this year — whether with the Eagles or not. He appears to have plenty left in the tank.
After winning the Super Bowl in 2017, Graham knows what is required to get the ultimate task done.
- “I know there’s always room to get better,” Graham said. “Like Jalen said, they [offense] didn’t score no more points in the second half.
- “Offense feels like they can get a lot better and I know we can feel the same way. There was plays out there that we left.
- “Overall, we look at the film, you start to see where you’re weak at and where people are going to start hitting you on certain stuff.
- “You make sure you stay on point with what you do … I love how we started but you gotta make sure we finish the same way because it’s a long season. It’s about getting hot at the right time.”