On a fourth-and-1 this past week, linebacker Brandon Graham knew he and the Eagles' defense needed to come up big. With 24 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Giants quarterback Eli Manning handed the ball off to Rashad Jennings. Graham knew immediately knew what was happening. The Eagles had practiced it all week.
The linebacker made the tackle in the backfield and New York lost 2 yards on the play.
As a whole, the defense's performance on Monday night showed the group's mental toughness. However, Graham has been tough his entire life. Growing up in Detroit shaped who he is today, and he wouldn't change that for the world.
"For me, my mom would always tell me not to make excuses, no matter the circumstances because I used to always wonder why my dad and my mom never worked out to where he could be in the household-type stuff," Graham said this week as The Interview on the Eagles Insider Podcast. "She would just say, 'Don't make excuses. It is what it is. Just make sure that you continue to listen to me and continue to get good grades and everything will work out.' And, that's what I did.
"As I got older and started seeing that life is about decisions, it kind of clicked for me a little early. Once I got to high school, like the beginning of high school, that's when I really started paying attention to my life decisions on who I'm hanging with and who I'm not because I'm trying to get somewhere."
Graham's high school was made up of one trailer. There was not a gym or a field. He and his teammates would travel to a local middle school to play football, and they worked hard to earn everything they received.
"We weren't given anything," Graham explained. "I kind of always had an attitude as far as you are not given anything. You just adjust to what the situation is."
Graham has come a long way since then. He went through a lot in his first few seasons with the Eagles, but the experience made him a stronger person and player. Now, his position on the team is that much more satisfying.
"I went through an injury (a torn ACL in 2010). I had to come from the threes all the way up to now ones. That was a long, hard journey," Graham said. "For me, I appreciate it that much more because I know what it's like to get dismissed real quick. I thought I wasn't going to be here a couple years ago just because new coach, my season wasn't going as good, new scheme, all kinds of different things. But for me, I knew football was going to be football and once he saw that I could play, I was going to be all right."
Also on the Eagles Insider Podcast:
Three-And-Out at the 6:20 mark
Enemy Intel at the 29:20 mark
Game Time at the 35:50 mark
Mailing It In at the 48:10 mark
Each week, Fran Duffy and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell take an in-depth look at the All-22 tape from the week prior, breaking down what worked, what didn't and what lies ahead for the Eagles. In this week’s episode of the Eagle Eye in the Sky Podcast, the two discussed Philadelphia's huge 27-7 win over the Giants, what's allowed DeMarco Murray to find his groove as of late and what the team will need to do to beat the 5-0 Panthers.
Against the Panthers, Murray rushed 21 times for 112 yards, and he did most of his damage in the second half. Seventeen of his attempts came after halftime, as did 97 of his yards. Cosell believes that Murray's success the past two weeks – 4.6 yards per carry in Weeks 5 and 6 versus 1.6 yards per carry in Weeks 1-4 – came largely from a change in scheme.
Cosell noted that 14 or 15 of Murray's second-half rushes were inside zone rushes, and that on a touchdown drive that saw him gain 32 yards on five carries, every single rushing attempt came on inside zone.
"DeMarco Murray is a downhill runner," he explained. "The Eagles' two foundation runs so far this season have been the outside sweep and the inside zone. When all's said and done, DeMarco Murray's not an outside sweep runner. Of the two runs they run, inside zone is the preferable one."
Duffy chimed in on the topic as well.
"It's interesting, too, because this offense funnels through the run game. Everything they do in the passing game is a complement to the run game," he said. "So much of the boot action, so much of the outside sweeps to the left that are actually screens to the left. ... Now that you get the running game going, it really helps to fuel the rest of the offense."
At the 28:20 mark of the show, former Eagles linebacker Ike Reese joined to talk about the challenges of playing in a defense that is heavy on zone, like Carolina's defense. He also touched on the difficulty of being a blitzer in such a defense.
"Zone used to be, you get to an area, and when someone comes in your area you cover them," he explained. "Now, if a man is in your zone, you need to hug him up. ... As a linebacker, you're typically going to have someone coming up in front of you and behind you, so in your pattern reading you understand, 'Don't jump up on the guys underneath, because you'll open up a window for the guy behind you.'"
From 37:00 until the end of the show, Duffy brought on Tony Pauline from DraftInsider.net to talk college football and take an early look at the 2016 NFL Draft.
On the latest episode of the Journey to the Draft Podcast, Alex Smith and Fran Duffy talked about the week that was in college football. In light of the Eagles' matchup with Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr., they highlighted six freak athletes who are potential 2016 NFL Draft prospects as part of the Pick Six feature. Here's a closer look at the players Smith and Duffy examined:
Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo
Hunt, a junior running back at Toledo, is coming off a historic season in which he rushed for 1,631 yards and 13 touchdowns on just 205 attempts, averaging 8.0 yards per carry. This year, though, he's missed three of the team's six games and has seen his production dip, gaining 259 yards on 49 rushing attempts (5.3 yards per carry). The 5-11 back is unlikely to come out in 2016, and is more likely to return for his senior season at Toledo.
Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Perhaps no wideout in college football has been as dominant as Corey Coleman has this season. The junior speedster is putting up video game numbers at Baylor, having already accumulated 877 yards on 41 catches to go along with a ridiculous 16 touchdowns through just six games. The 5-11 receiver has hit the century mark in every game in which he's appeared this season and is averaging 21.4 yards per catch. The Bears are 6-0 and currently ranked No. 2 in the nation.
Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia
This junior outside linebacker has great size and length at 6-4, and is one of the premier pass rushers in the SEC. After leading the Bulldogs with 6.0 sacks last season, he has 3.0 through seven games this year to go along with 6.0 tackles for loss. He has the quick first step needed to rush from the outside but also has experience as an inside linebacker in Georgia's 3-4 defense. Floyd is a potential first-round pick in 2016.
Montese Overton, LB, East Carolina
Speaking of standout pass-rushers, Montese Overton is certainly a name to remember as the draft approaches. At 6-3 and 221 pounds, the senior has been clocked in the low 4.3s in the 40-yard dash, a time unheard of at his position. He's notched 7.5 sacks this season for the Pirates, and all of those have come in the month of October. Overton's projected by analysts to be selected somewhere in the middle rounds.
Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
Ramsey is one of the top-rated defensive players in the nation, shutting down opposing wideouts and using his size to bolster the Seminoles' run defense. Quarterbacks generally avoid throwing in his direction at all, and he's helped lead Florida State to a ninth-ranked defense and a 6-0 record. At 6-1 and 202 pounds, Ramsey has potential at the safety position as well.
Will Redmond, CB, Mississippi State
Another potential first-round pick, Will Redmond, suffered a major setback last week, tearing his ACL and ending his senior season prematurely. Fortunately for Redmond, the injury occurred early in the season, affording him a longer recovery period before NFL Training Camps open next season.