Prior to the 2018 season, Brandon Graham underwent ankle surgery, which sidelined him for most the offseason team activity, and carried on to preseason camp.
Statistically, 2018 was his worst year in terms of sacks (4), tackles (39, and tackles for loss (9), although he still earned an elite PFFscore of 85.3 on the year.
Having been with Eagles his entire career, BG was happy to agree to a 3-year extension this offseason:
“My family and I, we didn’t want to go anywhere else, so to get this done, that’s the best feeling. I’m over here smiling ear to ear.”Brandon Graham after he signed extension with Eagles
We all remember his emotional ‘goodbye’ after the Saints game where he hugged members of the media, thinking it may have been his last game in Midnight green. But he was wrong. Graham remains with the team who he has given everything too over these last few years and looked ready to do it all over again.
From what we saw in the preseason, he looked ready to go. Healthy. Strong. Hungry. And it carried over into the first game in 2019…which is just as well considering the questions surround the DE depth that have burdened the team all offseason.
The Eagles defensive ends are one injury or slump in form away from players like Daeshon Hall and Josh Sweat taking center stage. Graham, as the leader in the room, had to make a statement. A statement that told the team there is life after Long and Bennett and it centers around the man drafted by the team back in 2010.
Turned to momentum to the Eagles
The Eagles had just scored to make it 14-20 in the 3rd quarter. The offense was rolling. After giving up a stupid field goal to end the half, the defense had to step up and gain momentum.
Enter Graham, who single-handedly took over the defensive series. On the first play, he crashed the line vs zone, obliterated Vernon Davis and made a good tackle. Subsequently, BG stunted inside with such power that it drove the RT with him, allowing Cox to stunt outside and make a TFL. He finished the drive by motoring down the field and tackling Thompson short of the sticks.
BG was a menace against the run all day. He displays the usual elite power when he stones Ereck Flowers coming in speed on a power and made the tackle after. Further, he didn’t allow Redskins RT Morgan Moses to seal him off on an outside run, winning the outside and made a tackle.
Finally, he had some decent reps in pass rush, showing active hands a solid bend on the final rep against Moses.
“In the beginning they were doing a good job tipping us, just moving the pocket, sliding around and doing stuff that we kind of knew they were going to do.” Graham said after the game.“But they did a good job. The first half they came out firing and took advantage of our mistakes. Like you said, if you don’t hit the quarterback, they’re going to pick you apart. I think in the second half we turned it up a little bit. As a [defensive line] we took on that challenge. Even though we didn’t get as many sacks, we were just trying to be disruptive and I think we have some stuff we can build on.”
Graham was by far the best defensive player on the field on Sunday, earning yet another elite score of 85.3.
The long-tenured Eagle is leading by example.
Mandatory Photo Credit: AP Photo/Butch Dill