Observers of the NFL often discuss offensive players that can give defensive coordinators nightmares. The Eagles may have a defensive duo that can do the same to offensive coordinators in Trent Cole and Brandon Graham.
The two defensive ends are skilled pass rushers, making it tougher to just double Cole and feel good about a protection scheme.
“They are going to have to put two or three on him, so what are they going to do with me? That’s what I want to know,” said Graham. “I’m just going to go out there and go hard like I know I can.” Graham is never one to lack confidence, and why should he? The former Wolverine racked up 28 sacks in his college career, including 10 last year. By comparison, Trent Cole notched 18 sacks at Cincinnati and 8.5 in his final season as a Bearcat.
Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott feels that the ability to line up Graham across from Cole should free up his two-time Pro Bowler. “It will be to his benefit, absolutely, and to our benefit defensively. So, I’m sure he’s anxious and likes what he sees at the other side from Brandon, [Juqua Parker], and from Te’o-Nesheim as well,” said McDermott.
While Juqua Parker is still listed as the starter across from Cole, Graham seems to be the better pass rusher and all of the talk is about what the Michigan product can do at the next level. “I see greatness. I see us having a great time this season, flying around the ball, making plays, sacks, celebrating after sacks. I see it all; I can picture it right now,” Cole said.
Parker did rack up eight sacks last year, but some of his production has to be attributed to playing across from a player the caliber of Cole. Parker had only started two games in his six year career prior to 2006 and has since started 34 times in three seasons. The undrafted Oklahoma State product certainly doesn’t have the pedigree of Graham, who some expect to compete for the defensive rookie of the year award.
Trent Cole is impressed as he compares Graham’s first training camp to his own five years ago. “Just looking back, I’ve seen film of myself from years ago. I see Brandon, that guy who likes to get after it, nonstop motor on him, and wants to get after it,” Cole said. “He’s hungry. That’s one thing I like about him and my teammates in general, that hunger they have. I share that hunger with him.”
Part of Graham’s appetite is fed by his quest to improve each day, a process that Cole has been helpful in. “There’s just a small conversation, he always helps, just from me gaining confidence and feeling better about being here and knowing everything, and just knowing that he’s got my back,” said Graham.
The Eagles hope that proves to be the beautiful thing about having two premier pass rushing defensive ends. You double one and you leave the other one-on-one. So, in that sense, they’ve both got each others’ back.