Brandon Graham Sends ‘Strong’ Message to Get Eagles ‘Hyped’

Brandon Graham

Getty Eagles veteran pass-rusher Brandon Graham hypes up his teammates on the sideline.

The Eagles know another loss means their playoff hopes are in serious trouble. First, they need to get back to having fun.

Brandon Graham has developed into one of the more vocal leaders on the team. He’s more of a rah-rah cheerleader than in-your-face dictator but that doesn’t mean he can’t dish out some tough love. Graham, one of eight Eagles captains, spoke up before Wednesday’s practice and delivered what he hoped can be a season-saving speech.

The 32-year-old defensive end told his teammates to focus on one day at a time and echoed what both Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz said: the sky is not falling. It all starts with communicating better and working on the little things, like not falling for bootlegs and misdirection.

“Don’t feel sorry for yourself, just know that you can get better every day and communicate and working on those little things that we kind of got away from this last game,” Graham told reporters on Thursday. “I was just trying to get everybody hyped and focused on that day [Wednesday]. If you can get people just focusing on the one day at a time mentality and enjoy that process for real, I know we’ve seen how strong we can be if we’re all on one page. That was pretty much my message.”

Graham’s 11 seasons of service make him one of the longest-tenured Eagles players on the roster. Not to mention one of the most respected and liked. His words matter and thought his teammates needed to be picked up after two brutal losses to start the year.

“I’m not worried at all about the guys in the locker room,” Graham said. “We all done had our talks. I brought the team up, and I was letting them know, those two games, they’re done with. We got the Bengals this week. Let’s get it started. We got a long season.”

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Graham Takes Blame, Credits Jim Schwartz

Graham, who recorded one sack versus Los Angeles, also took the blame for not sticking to his assignments last week. He started “reaching for plays” and allowed big runs to happen because he was distracted by all the “window dressing.” He needs to do a better job closing all the way down.

“I didn’t close all the way down because I was worried about the boot,” Graham said. “I was doing certain things that I normally wouldn’t do. But, you know, I started reaching for a play but I ended up costing us on a couple of those plays. Pretty much it was all basic stuff.”

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz took all the blame for the Rams’ loss earlier in the week, saying he needs to put his players in positions to succeed. He thought he had his defense prepared to play, just waited too long to make some in-game adjustments. It was a lack of execution and not miscommunication.

“Once Schwartz took credit for what he did in that game, that really boosted morale because it takes a strong person to say, hey, I messed up on that,” Graham said. “All of us thought we were going to cussed out because we had a bad game and to hear him say that, it just made me want to fight for him even more and it made the team want to fight for him even more.”

Winning NFC East Remains Top Priority

The Eagles had to fight and claw to win the NFC East in 2019. It took a four-game winning streak to end the year to get them into the playoffs, including a pressure-cooker win over Dallas in Week 16.

For whatever reason, this team prefers the hard path to success. Now they sit 0-2 with a feisty Bengals squad coming to town. More adversity? No problem.

“We’re going to make sure those practice days count and work has always been our best friend when it’s time to go through adversity,” Graham said. “We got to make sure we come with the right attitude and a great attitude at that because either way we got, what, 14 more games? And we got to do something. We got to put the work in.”

The goal of claiming their second straight NFC East crown — and their third division title in four years — hasn’t changed. The Eagles only sit one game behind the Dallas Cowboys (1-1) and Washington Football Team (1-1) so it is literally right in front of them.

“I don’t think people second-guess themselves in the season,” Graham said. “We still got goals that we want to hit, you know, you’re going to have ups and downs but you always remember, we’re trying to win the NFC East so we can get into the postseason and we’re only one game back. But, we got to put ourselves in a better position by winning games.”

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