In his 13 years in Philly, Brandon Graham has experienced all the highs and lows the NFL has to offer and he’s seen very different teams come and go.
The 2022 Eagles feel special.
“I prayed for a team like this,” Graham said on Wednesday. “I ain’t going to lie. I’m just trying to enjoy the moment, enjoy this, enjoy y’all. It goes by fast.”
When asked what he meant by saying he prayed for a team like this, Graham explained that he dreams about having a team that’s playing together while doing something special.
Graham, 34, said the Super Bowl season in 2017 snuck up on him because there weren’t very high expectations for that team and we all know what it went through during that season. But he didn’t cherish every moment of that season the way he’s trying to with this 2022 campaign, especially after the 6-0 start.
“We kind of got that similar chemistry going on right now,” Graham said, “and I just want to stay in the moment instead of keep looking ahead. We don’t know what the future holds. I know what I love right now is what our mindset is coming off the bye and how we’re going to approach this week.”
Chemistry can be a fickle thing, especially when a team adds so many new pieces. Think about all the newcomers playing vital roles on this team: A.J. Brown, Haason Reddick, James Bradberry, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Kyzir White, Jordan Davis, etc.
And the Eagles have added these players in waves. Some came early in the offseason, Bradberry was added before camp, Gardner-Johnson was traded here just before the season. On Wednesday, the Eagles continued to add talent, pulling off a trade for defensive end Robert Quinn.
So why does this team have such great chemistry?
“Because we talk about it,” Graham explained. “A lot of times I’ve been on teams where it’s like, ‘It’s just him. Don’t worry about it. He’ll come around.’ People ain’t scared to step to people. And it’s not like they’re stepping to them in a bad way. It’s just more about, ‘What we say? Didn’t we say we was about to get this thing? Get your mind right.’ Like, ‘Come on, don’t worry about that.’ It’s cool because it starts with the leadership and for sure starts upstairs with coaches and how they talk to us and how we do it. We all come together and it trickles down.”
In Graham’s eyes, accountability breeds chemistry.
And it makes sense.
Graham explained there needs to be mutual respect between teammates. So when one teammate holds another accountable it’s done the right way because they understand how to communicate. It also takes a level of humility from those parties involved too.
“It’s how you come to him,” Graham said. “I think that’s the biggest difference with every team is how you’re talking to each other. I’m sure with y’all, y’all got people you work with. If you an [a-hole], people are not going to like you. But there’s good [a-holes] out there too. Because some people just don’t like to hear the truth.
“I think the best thing is we tell the truth around here and we don’t let stuff go by the wayside because it definitely hurts you in big moments when you know you let somebody get away with something over time. Eventually, when you need it in a big game that guy made the same mistake that we let slide. You just don’t want that.”
The Eagles have seven captains this season and most of them — Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Fletcher Cox, Darius Slay, Graham and Jake Elliott — have significant NFL experience. The only one who doesn’t is third-year quarterback Jalen Hurts, but he has been praised for his leadership qualities even before he entered the NFL.
The leadership on this team goes beyond the captains too. For the most part, coaches are always going to hold players accountable.
With these Eagles, the players are doing that as well. That’s one of the main reasons they have such great chemistry. And Brown thinks it’s one of the main reasons the new players have been able to acclimate so smoothly.
“I think the best players holding the best players accountable,” Brown said. “As Jalen say all the time, it’s a standard. And raising that standard every chance we get. I think including myself, guys came in and went to work. We didn’t look for handouts, we went to work. We know what we got to do and what we’re trying to accomplish and that’s very hard in this league.”
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