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Brandon Graham reveals this massive improvement in Eagles defense compared to 2023 season

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PHILADELPHIA — Brandon Graham went out of his own way to bring up last year’s coaching staff. He certainly wasn’t asked about them.ย 

When asked what life was like without Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox on the Philadelphia Eagles, the third member of the team’s “Core Four” took the answer a step forward.ย 

“I really think that last year, that’s what we didn’t have. We didn’t have all the right coaches in the right position, I would say,” Graham said at the NovaCare Complex Wednesday. “You can see the guys truly believing in what we got going on. I’m excited for the rookies coming in. They’re gonna get a good shot and a good taste of what it really is in the NFL.”ย 

Who Graham was talking about wasn’t a mystery. The Eagles moved on from Sean Desai and Matt Patricia after the 2023 season, one which they removed play-calling duties from Desai and handed them to Patricia in Week 15 of the season. Philadelphia also moved on from defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, linebackers coach D.J. Eliot and secondary coach D.J. McDonald.ย 

Vic Fangio was hired as the defensive coordinator, as he revamped the defensive coaching staff. The difference has been easily noticeable for Graham, who is entering his 15th season and is the longest-tenured defensive player in the NFL.ย 

“You just notice little stuff last year. Certain stuff you weren’t on the same page about. Just here and there,” Graham said. “Certain things would pop up, but it popped up in a big way that last game. Everything I learned, you just wanna make sure we had a proper communication, so there’s real big communication going on right now within the locker room, on the field, and in the classroom.ย 

“I don’t see none of that at all. I’m more excited because we do got Fangio. Somebody experienced, real, real good. Not saying anything about the past, but you can just tell everyone is on the same page about stuff.”ย 

The Eagles defense was a disaster last season. In Desai’s last six games as the defensive play-caller (before being replaced in Week 15), the Eagles were 32nd in theย NFLย in third-down defense (54.8%) and red zone defense (78.3%) — allowing a league high 428.2 yards per game and 297.8 passing yards per game.ย 

Philadelphia was 31st in the league in points per game allowed (30.0) and allowed 30-plus points in three consecutive games for the first time since 1967 — the last three games Desai called the plays.

The Eagles moved Desai up to the booth in favor of Matt Patricia, but the results weren’t significantly better. Philadelphia was 28th in yards per game allowed (375.8), 26th in rush yards per game allowed (131.0), 24th in pass yards per game allowed (244.8), 26th in yards per play allowed (5.8) and 28th in points per game allowed (27.8) in the five games under Patricia (including postseason).ย 

Desai was essentially a lame duck at defensive coordinator once the Eagles made the switch to Patricia. The Eagles were 30th in points per possession allowed (2.35) and 31st in yards per possession allowed (34.6) last season.ย 

Graham credited the Eagles — most notably Howie Roseman — for correcting their mistake.ย 

“Just, you know, I feel like. He always do what he do,” Graham said of Roseman. “I always say he’s the wizard. Trying to figure out what went wrong, being honest, having those hard conversations. He’s not scared to make certain moves. When you got a good team like we have and good players, sometimes, it don’t always reflect that because of us not being on the same page sometimes.ย 

“That’s the thing in professional sports. All it takes is one person to mess up on an assignment and it costs us the game. He knew. He knew a lot of stuff. He seen it. I knew he wanted to get it right. Who wanna look bad playing for the Eagles?ย 

“I think he did a good job at just bringing the guys in. Bringing in coaches that’s really good. I’m excited to see where we go.”

After getting all this off his chest, Graham put out a big smile to all the media in attendance and said “y’all don’t get me in trouble.” The was certainly a point he wanted to get across regarding how things were last season.ย 

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Author: Jeff Kerr
June 6, 2024 | 7:15 am

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