Eagles Pass Rusher Reveals Giants Secret: ‘Throw the First Punch’

Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox

Getty Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox are two of the most vocal leaders on defense for the Eagles.

The key to beating the Giants really isn’t that complicated. The way Eagles edge rusher Brandon Graham sees it, the team just needs to take a cue from Philly’s favorite fictional boxer. Rocky Balboa always preaches to “keep punching.” That’s the message Graham and the boys in midnight green are pounding home this week.

The Eagles hold a slight lead in the NFC East, but the division is very much up for grabs. Everyone knows that. Graham told reporters on Thursday the team can’t expect to rest on their laurels after dropping New York 22-21 on Oct. 22. No, the Eagles need to execute and come out punching in the rematch.

“It’s all about going out there and executing,” Graham said. “You got to throw the first punch because playing them that second time is hard. And we’re going to fight, both ways, on trying to get as many points as we can. I think it’s all about throwing that first punch and keeping it consistent, execute.”

Graham went on to shower the Giants’ offensive line and blocking scheme with praise for last week’s win over Washington. New York rumbled for 166 yards on the ground in a 23-20 victory, including 68 yards from Wayne Gallman. The Giants will be getting Pro Bowl rusher Devonta Freeman back this week as well. It’s going to be a battle in the trenches.

“They have gotten better since we last saw them,” Graham said. “And, like I say every week, it’s no guarantees in this league. You got to go work for what you want and I think they been working and we got our hands full.”

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Don’t Sleep on Daniel Jones’ Speed

Daniel Jones stole the show the last time the Eagles and Giants met when he busted loose for an 80-yard run, one that went viral for the comical way it ended. The Giants quarterback had an easy touchdown in his sights, then tripped himself up around the 30-yard line and stumbled down at the 8-yard line. Jones was eviscerated on social media but the run itself was impressive.

According to Next Gen Stats, Jones topped out at 20.64 miles per hour on the would-be touchdown run. It was the fastest of his career and one of the fastest among all quarterbacks this season. He has 40 rushes for 320 yards this season, piggy-backing off his 2019 rookie campaign where he gained 279 yards on 45 carries. Respect the legs.

“We know that he’s a good quarterback and he’s fast,” Graham said. “And they do a lot of running the quarterback because of his speed. So we got to make sure we stay technically sound and stay within the defense and be where you’re supposed to be. Because he is a guy that can make all the throws and now we’re seeing that they’re running him a lot.”

Graham Approaching Double-Digit Sacks

Graham didn’t want to jinx it, although he is keenly aware of how close he is to his preseason goal. The Eagles top defensive end came into training camp in the best shape of his life and vowed to reach double-digit sacks for the first time in his career.  Well, Graham already has seven sacks with eight games remaining on the schedule. If all goes well, he should clear the 10-piece by Thanksgiving.

“Who knows, man,” Graham said when asked about reaching double digits. “I’m feeling really good with where I’m at right now and all I got to do is keep working and whatever happens, happens.”

But the 11-year veteran has definitely thought about hitting that high watermark. It’s in his sights after all.

“You know, I try not to put a number on it but right now double digits is in my sights for the first time,” Graham said, “You know what, I enjoy it as I go. I’m not going to go out there reaching for plays, reaching for sacks … that’s not how it’s been coming to me anyway. I am appreciative and I’m just having fun, man, in Year 11 — and I think there’s more to come.”

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