Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
October 30, 2020
Q: You’re obviously familiar with the quarterback that you’re going to face on Monday. Just some thoughts on Tom Brady and your experience with him and against him.
A: With him, nothing but fond memories. I still remember the first time I met him. He introduced himself to me, I was a young QC and I was in there early in the morning in the offseason. I was working on the exercise bike and I had my hoodie on and I had my head down and I was just on the bike. This told you a lot about Tom, there were not a lot of players in the building at the time. I felt someone tap on my shoulder, you could imagine my first year in the league, it’s like maybe the first month I’m there. I look up and boom, it’s Tom, he was glowing and stuff. He was like, ‘hey, I’m Tom’, and I’m like, ‘yeah’. I didn’t say my name and then eventually I said my name. I always thought that was cool. It talks a lot about him as a leader and I saw it for the seven years I was there. You continue to see it as you watch him now. He leads my example. I have a lot of respect for him as a football player, as a man. He was never too big to talk to, whether it was me as a defensive quality control or a rookie wide receiver. That’s what makes him special. I haven’t seen anybody work as hard as him, be as studious as him. In front of the meetings, when Bill used to have meetings, he was up there in front taking notes. It shows the hard work pays off from what you see on the field. What I’m seeing now with Tampa Bay, it’s a continuation and obviously the combination of him, B.A. (Bruce Arians) and Leftwich working together and with the tools he has in Tampa Bay. Tom is getting rid of the ball pretty quickly, making the right decisions. I think I said it before, the veteran quarterbacks’ ability to get them in the right run plays, I think that should be another stat that people should keep in mind. How they’re able to run for 100 yards each week with Jones for three weeks in a row. That’s pretty remarkable there. A lot of it goes to Tom getting them in the right play. A ton of respect, if you can’t tell, for him as a football player and also as a man.
Q: I’m sure you have seen a lot of teams go up against Tom Brady and sort of tremble in their shoes a little bit at the idea. It sounds like you had a little bit of that moment too when you first arrived in the league. Do you think having a lot of players on this team and on this coaching staff that know him and played with him eliminates that a little bit?
A: I would say this, we always say we don’t want to talk out of two sides of our mouth. It’s a people league, so obviously if you know the person, it gives you some sort of, I don’t know about advantage but at least you are familiar with him as a football player. I would say that’s better than not knowing who you’re dealing with. I would say that. In terms of how it plays out from week to week. Again, the league is so different from week to week, team to team. I don’t know if anything I learned from going up against him in practice or when I was at Miami or when I was at Green Bay going against him, I don’t know if that’s going to help us for this week. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, if that answers (your question). It’s not just Tom you’re playing, though. That’s the thing when you think about the quarterback. I think Tom does a great job of understanding that. It’s a young people’s game. He gets the ball out to those young guys. He gets the ball out to those guys. He knows how to distribute it and get it out there. Not taking anything away from him, he’s a playmaker himself. He understands, get the ball to the skill players. You think about the positions, wide receiver, running back and the amount of talent they have over there. You get those guys the ball in space, it’s a problem. We have to defend all that grass behind us, but they know where they’re going. We don’t know where they’re going, we have to react. Tom is a master at getting them the ball in space and let them use their tools and their skills. They have a bunch of guys that have good skills. Whether it’s the receivers, the backs, the tight ends. We have our work cut out for us this week. That’s why I’m looking forward to practice today.
Q: You guys have brought a lot of guys into this defense that you have familiarity with from various previous stops. What’s your role in that and how much of a benefit is it to have guys that you have that background with?
A: I give all the credit to the personnel department. They do a great job of scouring, whether it’s the waiver wire or just looking at guys who are free agents out there. They do a good job of that, starting with (Dave) Gettleman and working its way down. Whether it’s T-Mac (Tim McDonnell), Chris Pettit, all those guys, Mark (Koncz), those guys do a good job of that. When they ask me a question about a guy I might have coached, I just give them an honest answer. I tell them what I think about the guy, what he did for us, what I think of him as a player. Try to steal some time to watch tape if there was some tape from earlier in the year. ‘Okay, here he is, he is doing a good job, he looks the same as what I thought he was or he’s declining’, or ‘hey, he looks better, let’s go get him. He looks better than when I had him.’ I just answer whatever questions they might ask me. The decision making, that’s up to Joe and the personnel people. I just answer any questions they might ask.
Q: Obviously, you go back to Jason Pierre Paul from when you were a position coach here. I’m just curious, your impressions of him back four years ago. I know you’re not preparing to stop him. In terms of what your impressions of him were back then and are you surprised four years later, he’s still doing what he’s doing for Tampa?
A: I’m not surprised by any stretch of the imagination, he’s different. You talk about all those guys that are different, he’s different. He’s a different human being walking among us. Whether it’s his movement skills, his skill level that’s improved as he’s gotten older. I see him contort his body into different positions and be able to come out of it. I definitely would’ve been hurt, but that’s not really a gauge because I’m not an athlete. Some guys would’ve been hurt. This guy is a different human being walking among us. You can just see some of the players I’ve seen cross over on film of how his skill level is improving like you would assume as you get older. In terms of a person, I thought JPP always kept the room light. He was a guy who was funny, kept the room light. Different personality than me, so sometimes that bumps heads because I’m so serious all the time and he could joke around a little bit more. It was a pleasure to be around him. I’m really happy for him, happy for his family. I’m sure he’s happy being closer to Florida. For him to go through what we went through and be able to come back out of it and having success. Whatever the numbers are with sacks. The fondest memory I have of him was it was my first game with the Giants. It was the national anthem down there in Dallas, it was a Sunday afternoon game. He could tell I was like, ‘oh, this is Dallas-Giants, this is a little different.’ He looked at me and said, ‘It’s a little different than them other games you’ve been in, huh?’ I laughed and then that game, the first three quarters he was playing okay, he made a few plays. When that fourth quarter came on and he turned it on, I looked at him and I said, ‘oh, you are different.’ He said, ‘I told you, coach.’ JPP, fond memories working with him and wish him the best.
Q: What was yesterday like for you? You were down a couple coaches. How did that kind of work?
A: You know what’s funny, and it probably goes back to when we were kids, Pop Warner and stuff. Football coaches, for whatever reason, we don’t have a problem adjusting. You get weeded out if you have a problem adjusting. Whether a coach is down or dealing with zoom meetings or trying to figure that out how to get the film to these guys. Doing installs in the spring over zoom. I’m down in Florida installing with a guy who’s in Washington. We figure it out somehow, some way. I think the thing that carries over, especially with our staff, we have a bunch of smart guys on the staff. Some guys were down, they figured out ways to get in contact with their players and get the information to them. We were shorthanded here in the building, but with the collection of all the smart guys we have on the staff, we figured out a way to get it so that the players weren’t missing out. It’s just the nature of our job. The game is about in-game adjusting, we’ll have to do that this week. No matter what we practice and what we do for Tom, for Leftwich and for BA over there, they’re going to have something to counter it and then we have to adjust again. They’re going to counter it again and then we have to adjust again. I think it’s just in our nature to be able to handle that. That’s why I always wonder how we would do in some other settings, other professions. Obviously, we would have to dress up a little bit better than we do. I’ll have to get a haircut. I don’t know how I would fare in the business world. I always wondered how we would handle that.