Eagles DE Brandon Graham is truly defying the odds in year 13

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Brandon Graham
PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 22: New York Giants Offensive Tackle Cameron Fleming (75) blocks Philadelphia Eagles Defensive End Brandon Graham (55) in the second half during the game between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles on October 22, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Brandon Graham has had one of the best careers of any Philadelphia athlete over the last 10 years. He was drafted in the first round in 2010 and has become the longest-tenured Eagle on the team. He navigated through early injuries, bad coaching, and potential bust status to become one of the most beloved figures in the city.

It wasn’t until Jim Schwartz moved him back to defensive end from linebacker in 2016 that his career took off. Ever since then, he has been a constant in a very good pass rush almost every year, averaging 7.3 sacks a year (excluding his two game stint in 2021).

Last season, Brandon Graham tore his Achilles tendon in the second game of the season. That kind of injury is devastating to a player of any age, let alone someone who’s 34 with plenty of wear and tear already. Against all odds, he has come back and is having one of, if not the best seasons of his career.

Brandon Graham’s new role

The Eagles as a team always talk about rotating their defensive line throughout the game to keep players fresh. In the past, Brandon Graham has been a starter and even with the deep line rotation, would still play about 70-80% of the team’s defensive snaps. At his age and coming off of an injury, that was not something the Eagles wanted to try again.

They still believed he had something to give to the team, but he would play a much smaller role and probably not reach his old production. The smaller role part has turned out to be true, with Brandon Graham averaging 40% of the defensive snaps, but is on pace to have his best statistical season ever. In only 13 games, Graham has 8.5 sacks, 9 tackles for loss, 13 QB hits, and 2 forced fumbles.

The only statistic that has taken a hit is his total tackles, but that’s because he’s playing close to half the snaps he used to play, so I don’t see that as a reason for concern. 

Graham is being used less in run situations and more in pass-rush situations, and it is paying dividends. He has more energy to win the rushes he plays since there are fewer of them, which is causing him to be more effective in smaller bursts. He is proving to be the perfect weapon on a defensive line that’s already loaded with talent.

Getting to play behind Josh Sweat, Haason Reddick, Fletcher Cox, and Javon Hargrave might be discouraging for some players, but Brandon Graham has seemed to accept his new role and run with it. The team doesn’t have to be as dependent on him for every snap as they used to be, but he is still a very important piece on and off the field, who against all odds, is producing more than he ever has. 

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire