Philadelphia Eagles’ Brandon Graham sees clear ‘next step’ after career-best season
PHILADELPHIA — After six NFL seasons filled with injuries, sporadic playing time and uncertainty about the future, Brandon Graham shed those looming issues with a career-best season in 2016.
The Eagles’ defensive end entered the year as a potential backup and wound up earning second-team all-pro honors. He routinely blew past offensive tackles to disrupt plays in opposing backfields, finding comfort in coordinator Jim Schwartz’s aggression-based scheme.
And with his dominant year in the rearview, Graham explained Tuesday he can still make progress in one specific aspect of his game.
“My next step,” he said, “is to make sure that I get the quarterback down.”
According to SportingCharts.com, Graham led the league with 40 quarterback hurries in 2016, but piled up just 5.5 sacks, which ranked 53rd in the league.
The former Michigan star caused incompletions, holding calls and interceptions with his pressure at times last season. That wasn’t always satisfying for him, though.
“I think I missed a lot of sacks last year, and for me, it’s just making sure I work on my technique,” Graham said. “When I look back at it, it’s just sometimes when I miss. it’s because I wasn’t as violent as I should have been in certain times.”
To Graham, the necessary progression is about the little things. He already has the quick first step, strength and balance to burst through offensive lines.
But if he wants his to continue his ascent, to prove 2016 was the beginning of sustained success rather than an anomaly, he’ll have to be just as precise when he nears the quarterback.
“The effort is there,” Graham said. “It’s really just taking that next step of being that technician.”
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