Eagles’ Brandon Graham Gets Honest About Trying to Slow Down Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes

Getty Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes playing vs. the Eagles.

PHOENIX, Arizona — The Philadelphia Eagles will be facing a different version of Patrick Mahomes than we’ve grown accustomed to.

No, not because of the lingering effects of a high-ankle sprain suffered in the AFC Divisional Round, Mahomes shrugged off most of those concerns taking over the 4th quarter of the AFC Championship Game against the Bengals.

Since what feels like time immemorial, the Kansas City Chiefs star QB has been among the most dangerous passers when blitzed.

And, while the Eagles are just middle of the pack in blitz percentage, bringing extra heat on 22.1% of defensive snaps, Philly defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon might consider blitzing with the Lombardi at stake.

“Against a guy like Patrick you need to be able to mix some simulated four-man pressures with normal non-blitzers,” an NFC defensive coach told Heavy, on the condition of anonymity to share how he’d defend Mahomes. “Then, you have to worry about stopping the run, too!”

According to Football Outsiders, Mahomes is averaging only 6.6 yards per play when blitzed, which on the surface seems impressive. Until you consider how Mahomes performed against blitzes the past four seasons:

  • 2018: 8.3 without blitz, 8.4 with blitz
  • 2019: 7.8 without blitz, 8.6 with blitz
  • 2020: 7.2 without blitz, 9.3 with blitz
  • 2021: 6.7 without blitz, 9.4 with blitz

So, how much will Mahomes’ recent struggles against extra pressure impact Gannon’s Super Bowl game plan? How much should it?

Mahomes’ ankle injury could limit his ability to scramble or extend plays after he rushed for just 8 yards on 3 scrambles.

“You’ve got to come after him,” an NFL defensive line coach told Heavy. “Can’t let him make plays with his legs. Philly’s zone could wind up being a problem if Gannon doesn’t adjust, they just leave too much space for Kelce, and the Chiefs’ running game is better than most people realize.”

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman built a defensive juggernaut in Gannon’s image that didn’t just raise the defensive coordinator’s profile in this head coaching hiring cycle, but one that powered Philadelphia’s sprint to the Super Bowl.

Defensive linemen Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Javon Hargrave and Josh Sweat combined for 40.0 of the Eagles’ 70.0 sacks.

Still, when Gannon dialed up added pressure via the blitz, held opponents to only 4.4 yards per play, a full yard less than downs they didn’t blitz.

According to Graham, who strip-sacked Tom Brady to clinch the Eagles’ first Super Bowl in 2018, the plan is to be aggressive as ever against Mahomes.

“You have to take your shot against him,” Graham said, from the team hotel Tuesday. “He’s a heck of a ballplayer. You know you’ve got your work cut out, but you have to be sure you take your shot.

“You see when other teams play scared, that’s when he really blows you up. So, I’m going to take my shot. If he makes a play, well, he gets paid, too.”

Matt Lombardo Column

Quote of the Week

“If I were going to bet on this game, I would take everything I own, get it in cash, and put my money on the Kansas City Chiefs.” – San Francisco 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk

There’s a lot to unpack here.

During an appearance with SFNiners, Aiyuk said he believed that the Eagles’ defense got “extremely” lucky in Philadelphia’s 31-7 NFC Championship victory, which saw quarterback Brock Purdy knocked from the game briefly with an elbow injury, only to be forced back into action when Josh Johnson suffered a concussion.

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