I’m busy with the DGR, but wanted to take a minute to answer a couple of questions.
What’s up with Brandon Graham not getting a chance to start? Why isn’t he fighting Trent Cole for a starting job?
Brian Baldinger made mention during the game that Graham had freelanced a bit last week. I forget the exact phrase, but he was making the point that Graham wasn’t playing within the scheme as the coaches wanted. He was trying to make plays. Baldy likely heard this from a source and it matches up with some stuff I noticed. Graham has been an attacking DE since his college days. His instinct is to fly off the ball and make things happen. He’s now in the process of adjusting that and playing OLB. Beyond physical skills, the player must buy into the new scheme and execute his assignments correctly. Brandon has to do that before he can even think about pushing for a starting role.
Graham is the team’s best pass rusher right now. I’m sure the coaches want him on the field. They need Brandon to show that he can be disciplined and reliable. It is easy for us on the outside to be excited when he makes a play, but the coaches will only be excited if he made that play within the context of the defense.
As to why Brandon is at LOLB and not the right side…I’ve mentioned this before. My best guess is that Brandon has mostly played LDE in college and the NFL and that’s the side he’s most comfortable on. Switching sides and positions at the same time can be a bit much.
Could Cole or Graham be traded?
It is cheaper for the Eagles to keep Trent Cole than to trade him. When they gave him that new deal, there were bonuses that make it costly to trade or cut him. Trent made progress in the CAR game so he’s headed in the right direction. He’s also a strong veteran leader and I think Kelly will keep him around this year. This could be his final year as an Eagle, though. Trent has to show he can play OLB to stay.
Graham is a tough subject. He has trade value since he’s young and a good pass rusher. That also makes it tougher to give up on him. What if Brandon just takes a bit more time to adjust to the 3-4? Do you want to give up on him?
As we talk about players you also have to remember that what they do in practice is very important to where they sit on the depth chart and what the coaches think of them. Are the players assignment sound? Are they smart? Are they coachable? Cole is someone the coaches are going to love and want to keep. I’ve not heard bad things about Graham, but I don’t think he’s in the same class as Cole in terms of being a good locker room guy. Think of it this way. Cole is a good influence on others. Graham is a young guy who needs someone to be a good influence on him. In time he’ll become more of a leader.
Is the lack of pressure from OLBs a concern?
The defense did make progress this week, but the only LB that consistently pressured the QB was Graham. Barwin dropped back to cover a lot, but still wasn’t disruptive off the edge when he did rush. He and Cole have to get better for this defense to be solid, let alone good. The 3-4 is predicated on good OLB play. This is a definite concern.
Why was Vinny Curry with the 3rd team vs the Panthers?
Curry made a lot of plays in the opener, but is still behind UDFA Damion Square at RDE. Square doesn’t make a bunch of plays, but he is in the right spot all the time. I think Curry is still a bit erratic on this. As I said with Graham, you can’t just look at results. You must see how the player got them. Did they come within the context of the defense? Shooting gaps against backup blockers might look good in August, but come September you must execute your specific assignment. The coaches need to see that in practice and games.
What about Brandon Boykin as a starter?
I think Boykin would have to really outplay Williams and Fletcher to start. The reason why is that Boykin can be so valuable in the slot. The coaches don’t seem to want him playing inside and outside this year. That might change, though, if he’s impressive enough.
I think Williams and Fletcher played well enough vs CAR that they’ll stay the starters.
Is Jimmy Bama a complete hack?
Wait…who snuck this question in here? How dare you attack my friend’s character like that.
Back to the DGR for me.