Eagles Star Reveals New Defensive Scheme: ‘Man, I’m Excited for Big Boy’

Brandon Graham

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

Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon caught a lot of flak last season for refusing to identify with one defensive scheme. He mixed up a healthy dose of 4-3 and 3-4 alignments and rotated his linebackers in and out as dual-threat pass rushers. Problem is, they struggled to get to the quarterback.

That’s all about to change for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2022. The franchise drafted 341-pound behemoth Jordan Davis in Round 1 to beef up their defensive line, while adding standout linebacker Nakobe Dean in Round 3. Those two additions showed the Eagles were leaning toward using a more traditional 3-4 alignment this season.

And veteran defensive end Brandon Graham appears to have let the cat out of the bag. Graham emphasized how important those new additions were going to be in their “34 defense.” That indicates the Eagles are shifting to a full-time 3-4 alignment.

“Our run defense has gotten a lot better, with a lot of the additions that we made,” Graham told reporters on Wednesday. “Then on top of that we want to get after the quarterback: 34 defense, you need somebody in the middle that can take two [guys], maybe three [guys] sometimes.”

Graham also mentioned how hungry returning linebacker TJ Edwards was heading into the 2022 campaign, along with how excited he was about the acquisition of linebacker Kyzir White.

“You just want the best available players in positions we know we probably was weak in [last year], not as good because I went down last year,” Graham said. “Injuries always happen, you want to make sure you have depth because if something does happen you have insurance and you got guys that can play.”

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Graham Wants ‘Comeback Player of the Year’

A lesser player may have cashed in his chips after rupturing an Achilles tendon at age 33. Graham isn’t wired that way. The first thing he thought when staring down at his shattered leg was how he was going to come back from the injury. Graham was determined to return in 2022 and he’ll enter training camp with no restrictions.

“I’m doing everything right now,” Graham said. “I’m with the team. I feel like there hasn’t been no drop-off or anything. Now it’s just getting in shape shape.”

“Shape shape” means football shape, like moving laterally and digging his heels into the turf. Graham will test his surgically-repaired Achilles tendon all summer while trying to reclaim his starting spot at defensive end. That’s not a given for the Super Bowl champion, something that Graham isn’t too proud to fight for.

“I’m like whatever, this being my last year on my deal,” said Graham who is entering the final year of his 3-year contract from 2019. “I just love the depth that we got. I want to show that I can still play, and I can help this team win. But I’m 34 [years old] and I still got a lot to prove because I didn’t play last year. That’s OK, I’m cool with that.”

His top priority? To win NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

“All I could think about that day [September 19, 2021] was when I come back to be the Comeback Player of the Year,” Graham said. “That’s where I’m at, that’s my mindset. I want to go out on my terms and hopefully we get us another ring, and I got something to think about.”

First Impressions on Rookie Jordan Davis

The Eagles traded up to grab Davis with the 13th overall pick. Many draft experts called the 6-foot-6, 341-pounder a steal for them in the first round. He is a “freak show” — arguably the most athletic defensive tackle to ever enter the league — and plans to put all his physical traits on display in his rookie season. Graham can’t wait to see it.

“Man, I’m excited for big boy because he gonna be taking two or three people with him hopefully and take a lot off us,” Graham said. “And I believe he just added a lot more depth for us. Man, it’s going to be a lot of fun bringing those guys in once we get everybody up to speed.”

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