Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
Q: You and Philadelphia both have to deal with the Christmas period, but you've got a couple extra days head start on them because their Tuesday game. Is that any advantage for you or is just there so much turnover with COVID?
A: Is it an advantage? I mean, you might look at the rest and all the stuff like that, but everybody in this league gets used to adjusting all the time, so it's really that adapt or die philosophy. Guys figure out a way. We've got Sunday games to Thursday games, Monday nights to Saturday or Sunday games sometimes. Guys figure it out. They figure it out and get their bodies in the right way, in the right shape and I know the coaches will probably take care of those guys, so they'll be ready to go. The thing is you've got a division game. It's the excitement of Christmas. We won the last time. I would expect that they're not going to have any problems getting ready to go. Again, does it matter? The only thing that matters on Sunday is execution. Who can execute? Whether we execute better on Sunday, or they execute better, that's all that it's going to come down to.
Q: With all the COVID going on, they might be calling up guys from the practice squad last minute. What sort of challenge is that?
A: I told you last week, Dallas didn't care if we had COVID issues. I don't care if – I mean, I hope everybody's safe.
Q: But is it more challenging maybe seeing a guy you haven't seen before?
A: We've got to do our research on them. There's enough tape out there on most people. The thing is, the COVID thing, you pray for the families that are suffering from that stuff because it's a serious issue. Fortunately, I'm able to go about my business and do my job. During this time, there's a lot of people, especially this type of year, it's unfortunate where they might've lost their jobs because of COVID-related stuff. I didn't mean to laugh about it because it's definitely not a laughing matter and my heart goes out to those folks and just hope everybody's safe. In terms of this football thing, there are plenty of football players out there that want to play on Sundays, so whatever roster, whatever team it is, they'll figure it out.
Q: How do you feel about your cornerback position given this week compared to last week maybe?
A: I thought last week, you take all things into consideration, guys played pretty well. Again, not well enough to win. We didn't win the game. That's not on them, that's on all of us. I thought (Cornerback Jarren Williams) J-Will stepped in there and competed. I think he showed his physicality out there. That's something that we liked about him. Then heading into this week, I just think we have a good group of guys. I know we might not have our full arsenal of guys right now. (Head Coach) Joe (Judge) will talk about the injury stuff and whatever it is and COVID and all that. I just think in general, (Defensive Backs Coach) Jerome (Henderson) does a good job working with those guys and I feel good on any given Sunday going out there for the matchup. This is a tough matchup with Philly. They've got a lot of skill guys. They're very skilled, like their offensive skill is a problem, including the backs, the tight end. I think (Eagles Tight End Dallas) Goedert's playing at a high level. The receivers – I mean, (Eagles Wide Receiver DeVonta) Smith is just one of the toughest. To see a rookie, he's got the robo arm on, he hurts his ankle and comes in the next series on Tuesday night. I couldn't be more impressed with this guy. He's a good football player. The emotions he shows in terms of wanting the ball at the end of the game, the last game. I think that's a good sign for a player. I've got a lot of respect for that guy and his toughness. All those receivers, again, talking about their skill group, they all block. They block you and they come in there and they crack backers. They crack the safeties. They've got a good group of guys. They're doing a good job down there.
Q: What did you see out of (Linebacker) Jaylon Smith last week, considering the 10 minutes he was here before?
A: You saw the pace in which he played. I sound like one of the soccer coaches when they talk about pace instead of fast. I'm not trying to sound all smart or whatever (laughs). The pace, that's what came up. I remember one time last week when he came off the edge blitzing, you just saw the pace at how he did it. I was impressed by that. Just the conversations you have with him, he knows football, so that's a positive there. He's been on good teams, been around good coaches. It's been really good to have him right now. He's trying to improve, trying to learn the system, but you saw the pace out there, the physicality. He had a good play when he scraped over the top on a stretch run, just natural linebacker instincts, stuff that he can just do naturally.
Q: Could his role expand some this week?
A: Whenever you play well, your role expands. The more he knows about the system and the scheme, which you give him another week, the more possibility for him to play more, yes.
Q: Just one more on him, I know you have been around him for just a few days now, but what happens with a guy – what's your assessment? He's only 26-years old. Obviously, he was a high draft pick and played at a high level and then he's on his third team this year. What's the genesis of that in your eyes?
A: I can't speak for Dallas and why they let him go, or Green Bay. I just know sometimes it has to be a good fit. Sometimes it has to be a good fit. Last week it was a good fit, and we'll see how it plays out this week. Sometimes it just has to be a good fit with what they're trying to do. I like his skill set. It fits with what we do defensively. I go and speak from my perspective and plus facing you the wind is coming this way, so I've got to go take some questions over here (laughs).
Q: In a division game when you have a first game, you have a matchup that really works for you. It seemed like (Cornerback James Bradberry) JB did against Smith. How do you balance going right back to that as opposed to changing something up?
A: This is the chess match. You look at that game, I think JB started off opposite him or we might've been boundary. I can't remember exactly. Well, I can remember, I'm just not saying it (laughs). It's just the chess match you play sometimes. We've got to see, because the emergence of Goedert, it might be like how we did with (Chiefs Tight End Travis) Kelce. You never know, we might say, 'hey, put him over there.' So, we've just got to play that game within the game and then the thing it comes down to on Sunday, we're going to have to adjust. JB's one of our better players, if we have to adjust it, we have to adjust it. But I can't speak on it right now per se, but we'll play around with it a little bit.
Q: What is your process for creating a successful game plan? I think when you guys win and succeed, a lot of it is due to what you do defensively taking stuff away. Do you have 'aha moments' during the week or is there night before stuff that you install last minute that works on Sunday? What is your process like?
A: I learned a long time ago from – it's funny, this is going to tie right in together with the Eagles – from (Patriots Head) Coach (Bill) Belichick, you just keep working until the last minute. People talk about the hay in the barn and all that stuff – saying I got right – the hay in the barn stuff. To me, you just keep working, trying to find a way. Watch the tape, keep grinding through the tape. It's not about being unprepared early in the week, it's just you keep just diving into the tape. For me, I'm constantly just keep looking at it even the night before, so some stuff over my career as a coordinator, some stuff's come the night before. Some stuff's come the morning of, but I learned that when I was at New England. I can say that honestly before that, I don't know if the last-minute adjustments if I did a lot of that until we got to New England. I remember one time for Philly, we were playing Philly and we came out of warm-ups and changed the call we never ran before, and we played it in the game the first series. I mean stuff like that, so I grew up learning that stuff. Definitely, I'll take it down to the last – as long as you prepare the guys to be able to handle that stuff. I think you've got to look ahead early on in the process. Are they ready? Are they adapting? Are they really following that adapt or die model that we talk about? Can they handle adjustments like that? But we've got to teach them that during the spring, training camp. But we'll take it down to the wire for an adjustment.
Q: How much of that is collaborative between you and Joe through week or is it more like at the beginning of the week there's a conceptual conversation about the game and then you dive in and now –
A: We always collaborate. To me, any game plan we come up with, especially the good ones, is usually ideas from Joe or the other coaches. Just me as the coordinator, I'm facilitating the thing, but it's always collaborative. Joe has his input as the head coach on the defense and working with other coaches. I'm lucky, I've got coaches that know their stuff. They're able to help. They're familiar with me and my personality in terms of my process throughout the week and how I'm not afraid to go to the last minute with it in terms of bringing up some new stuff. Once you work with guys for, this is our second year, they become more and more comfortable so they're not afraid to throw an idea out there on a Friday and say, 'Pat, I think it might help.' I'm like, 'hey, let's do it.' That's how it goes normally.
Q: The way that team is, do you just accept they're going to get 175-200 yards on the ground?
A: You know I'm an old d-line coach, no. It never feels good. It never feels good. The win feels good, all right? When we win, I'm happy for about five minutes and then I think about the next opponent. No, I don't want to concede that in any way shape or form. Absolutely not. Now, I want the win more than anything and if they run for 400 yards and we win, I'll smile probably about for a few minutes then I'll be upset for the rest of the day. But no, I don't want to concede that. They've got good players. We've got to do a better job this week. We've got to do a better job this week. We've got to limit the effectiveness. We've got to finish on tackles. We've got to get off blocks better. We've got to make sure we're lined up in position better on some of the plays. They've got a lot. They've got a lot they do. It's probably simpler for them, but the presentation creates a lot of problems for defenses, so we've got a real challenge ahead of us.