On the surface, the question in the headline would seem dumb.
Brandon Graham’s best season, if you asked anybody, would probably be 2017, when he stripped Tom Brady to help win the first Super Bowl in Eagles history. Statistics be damned, it was the most important play of his NFL career.
You’d think that the 2010 draft pick might be past his prime at age 32, but that hasn’t been the case in 2020, not for a guy with seven sacks and 11 quarterback hits just eight games into the campaign.
As such, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was asked the question Monday afternoon:
Q. Brandon Graham is having, at least statistically, his best season as far as sacks go, and he is 32. Have you seen anything like that before, and do you think he is having his best season? Obviously, you’ve said in the past that you really can’t measure guys by statistics sometimes. Is he having his greatest season or best season and how much of that have you seen before in your experience? (Nick Fierro)
JIM SCHWARTZ: I think throughout the NFL you’ve seen a lot of situations where you’ve seen older pass rushers continue to be effective. You can look at a lot of defensive ends, and you see that a lot.
As far as having his best season, I don’t know if I really judge it that way. I didn’t really follow him a ton before we got here four or five years ago. We always judge our D-Line play not as individual statistics but as a group. I think that he has made an impact on that group, not just in the pass rush game which everybody seems to focus on, but in the run game, also, has made some big tackles in the run game, created some pressures and has been able to finish with sacks and created turnovers which have been huge for us. Like that last week or our offense had turned the ball over and we went back on the field on a short field and success there is probably give up a field goal, but not only not allow a field goal but getting the ball out.
BG is having an outstanding year. We’ll just wait till the end of the year before we compare it to any other season. We still have a long way to go.
The sack number is so impressive at this point in Graham’s career. Seven sacks through eight games puts him on track to finish with 14, which would smash the career high of 9.5 he set during the 2017 season. 11 quarterback hits puts him on pace to finish with 22, which would tie the season high he set in the 2016 season. And if he can log seven more tackles for loss, he’ll crest 15, which he finished with in 2017 and 2019. Graham also has two forced fumbles and can meet the career high of four he set in 2014, during Chip Kelly’s second season.
For context, the only players with more sacks are Aaron Donald (9), Myles Garrett (9), and Trey Hendrickson (7.5). The only players with more tackles for loss are Vince Williams (15), T.J. Watt (14), Roquan Smith (12), and Khalil Mack (12). He’s right up there with elite, in-prime players.
Statistically, Graham’s on pace to have his best on-paper output ever, now in his 11th year. And the intangibles are pretty easily understood, when you consider his veteran presence and longevity, and the fact that he’s very good with the media and frequently appears on 94 WIP as well. He’s rounded into such a steady, reliable, and amicable presence over the years.
It’s been fun to watch. More production in the second half of the schedule and he’s going to cement his best season ever.
— NFL (@NFL) November 2, 2020