Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
November 12, 2020
Q: Given the success you had last week, have you considered putting the entire game plan in on Saturday?
A: I know a lot is being made of that. Every coach in America does that stuff. It’s a tribute to the players being able to handle stuff. As it goes, we keep grinding on. Open lines of communication between the coaches and the players. Just trying to fight and claw to try to get things right. Hopefully this week it serves us some momentum, but again each week is so different. We’re playing Philadelphia. We struggled in the two-minute against those guys last time. We have to come up with some stops because it’s going to come down to that. It comes down to red area, two-minute, third down. That’s what wins games in this league. We tasted success last week and hopefully it pays off and we keep building off it for right now.
Q: (Jokingly) If you’re such a genius, you would have thought of the wrinkle on Tuesday so you could actually practice it last week.
A: Exactly, I think I’m the opposite of genius. There is one true genius I know, I’m a big Einstein fan.
Q: How much of a difference has it been this year to play so much zone? I know you’re a guy that really comes from a man background and you played a lot of that at Miami.
A: Over my career, again I haven’t been in the coordinator role long, over my career, being a position coach, there’s been years when we fluctuated between man and zone and had higher numbers of zone. I think back to maybe 2010-2011, we were a big cover two team. Then we went to cover 1, man stuff later on in a few years there. We fluctuated. Again, the main thing I can tell you about the system in terms of what we’re trying to accomplish, we’re going to do what’s best for the players and what we think is best for that game. If it calls for man, some games we’re going to play more man. We have to hold up and do what we have to do to win. Win our leverage, contest the balls and we have to get some rush. If we play zone, obviously we have to get our eyes on the quarterback, good breaks, punish underneath throws, defend the deep part of the field. Whatever we think is going to be best for the game, that’s how we’re going to play it. It’s fluctuated over the years more than you would think if you were to look at the numbers.
Q: There was a pretty poignant moment at the end of that last Eagles game where you were sitting alone on the bench with your head buried. Can you just tell us what you were thinking there?
A: Each game is so different. I consider myself a teacher, first and foremost. I happen to teach football. I think like any teacher, whether you’re a kindergarten teacher or a professor, you’re trying to do your best job so your students can learn. You want to see them have success. To see them fight so hard, to give up that lead. Usually what happens, as a coach, obviously I didn’t get the right calls in there. I failed them. If I’m being honest with you, I was just disappointed in letting them down personally, that’s just me. In that moment of honesty, that’s where I was at, we have to figure this out. For me right there, it was more I look at these guys as I’m a teacher than as a coach. I felt bad I let them down and I had to figure out a way to make sure they can taste success and get the reward of all their hard work. They’re working really hard for Joe. I felt bad. They’re working hard for Joe, working hard for all of us, and we didn’t come away with the win. The beauty of this and division opponents is you get to play them twice. We got them this week, not that the last game has anything to do with this week. We got another shot at them. Looking forward to the opportunity to go out there and compete against them. Hopefully, we do enough to put ourselves in that position again to have a chance to win the game.
Q: The Eagles look a little bit different than the first time you saw them earlier. What kind of challenges do the guys that are coming back pose? Does that change how to attack them?
A: You have to look at Philadelphia over the years. These guys get hit with injuries and then whoever they put out there, they are pretty resilient. When the guys come back, they have a high skill level. You’re talking about (Miles) Sanders, these are people with high skill level throughout this league. Obviously, some of your focus has to go to them. On top of that, you have the emergence of the receivers, the quarterback, who is dynamic. Now as a defensive coach, you’re looking at all those weapons and you have to take a little bit of attention there, a little bit of attention there. Now your attention is getting spread out for all these players on top of the offensive line, who can block. It makes it more difficult, there’s no question. That’s why we like the competition of it, that’s why we stay up late trying to figure out stuff. We’re working on third down today, red area, and two-minute and all that stuff like that. We have to figure it out. They’re happy they have all their guys back. They will be ready to go, so we have to figure out how to stop them.
Q: I just wanted to ask you about Jabrill (Peppers) and Logan (Ryan). Not necessarily their skillsets but how they mesh together. How does that help disguise things on the back end with what you want to do pre to post snap?
A: You have to ask them, but to me, they seem like they really like being around each other. You would have to ask Pep himself, but if I’m a young DB in this league, you’re dealing with Logan, who has been in this league and has a lot of experience and been successful. It’s a wealth of knowledge you can get from him. You see that and that helps, that definitely helps. In terms of being on the field, the more interchangeable they are, the more you can disguise it. For me, as they’re growing with one another and understanding, okay, I can do your job, you can do my job. Now you start to play that game within the game, that’s always a good thing. You don’t want to put someone is harm’s way because what I can do and what you can do is different. If I’m the post safety, then I’m going to play the post safety spot. I like the fact that they will work with one another and be as interchangeable as possible as we keep growing this thing as we work through the season.
Q: The evolution of your defense as a whole, to slam the door on Washington twice last week and close them out twice, what does that speak to the evolution of you guys as a group?
A: It all comes back to the players. When we have success, it’s the players. It’s them and if we’re not successful, it’s because there is something I can do better. The success is because of the players. Guys made plays in big moments. None of that matters this week, but you hope it builds some momentum as you start going through the season. You think about the guys who made the plays. Pep (Jabrill Peppers), Blake (Martinez), Logan (Ryan), those are guys we rely upon that do their job and do it at a high level. That’s the positive there. They were able to do it at a high level when it counted and close the game out for us. As we think about the Eagles now, all the weapons they have, they have a great challenge in front of them. We, as coaches, have a great challenge in front of us, and we have to figure that out for this week.
Q: Do you need a victory this week, winning your battle against the Eagles in a big division game like this, to validate a lot of the success and improvement that you guys have obviously made as a unit?
A: This is a production league and the point of every week is to win the game. I would say as of right now on Thursday and how we go about it and how we attack each day, we’re trying to win today. In terms of validation, I want to win today. I want to go out there at practice today and win our preparation on third down and win our preparation in two-minute. Get better at tackling at practice today and keep building toward Sunday. In terms of a validation point for the game, we need wins, that’s what we do this for. If you’re hungry for something as a football player, as a competitor, as a coach, you’re hungry for wins. When I say hungry, I’m talking about a hunger. I need to eat, yeah, I want to win. We’re going to do what we have to do today to win today. Hopefully, we keep stacking the days, we put ourselves in a position on Sunday if we come out and perform, to put ourselves in a position to possibly win. We’re going to prepare to put ourselves in the best position as possible.