Brandon Graham’s career year will be snubbed for an another offensively biased NFL Award
At 33 years old and in his 12th NFL season, Brandon Graham ruptured his Achilles tendon during Week Two’s matchup with the 49ers last season. A fan favorite for over a decade, the Philly faithful painfully watched as Graham hobbled off Lincoln Financial Field, wondering if they would ever see the same caliber player again.
Lesson learned. Never doubt Brandon Graham or his work ethic ever again.
The veteran defensive lineman did not sulk for an instant following the injury, instead saying a prayer for himself before jumping into, “Let’s Go!” mode. After an intensive and pain-staking rehabilitation, Graham showed up for the first day of training camp this July just as he said he would, as a “full go” and dropped the following lines after the first practice.
“A new appreciation from being gone and now having another opportunity to be back out here with the Philadelphia Eagles. We have a good team. I want to take full advantage of every day we get to spend together because we got something special, but we got to put that work in every day. It’s not just gonna come to us because of what it says on paper.”
With new weapons across the defensive line, some questioned whether Brandon Graham would return to his Pro Bowl form from just two seasons prior. In the 2022 season opener, the 13-year pro recorded a half sack on four pressures and one defensive stop in 29 total snaps. In Week Three, BG officially announced he was back.
Graham put his former teammate Carson Wentz in the dirt three times (2.5 official sacks) on five pressures with four solo tackles and four defensive stops. He won his first ever NFC Defensive Player of the Week and got his second in Week 14 with a three sack game against the Giants.
Brandon Graham 2.5 Sacks vs Commanders
The Comeback Player of the Year is historically an offensive award, with the top-four betting favorites being quarterbacks or running backs this season. The last defensive player to earn those honors was Eric Berry in 2015 after his courageous battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and fighting back to play the 2016 campaign.
The last defensive lineman to have the best comeback season in the NFL came in consecutive years from 1999 to 2000. Drafted seventh overall by the 49ers, DT Bryant Young led the NFL in sacks in 1998 before breaking his leg in Week 13 on Monday Night Football. He required a metal rod to be inserted into the fractured leg but went on to total over 70 tackles, 11.0 sacks, and a safety in 1999 to win the Comeback Player of the Year.
The Saints drafted defensive end Joe Johnson with the 13th pick in the 1993 draft and he started immediately, tallying over five sacks in four of his first five seasons. Johnson had a career-high 70 tackles and seven sacks in 1998, making his first Pro Bowl appearance before tragedy struck.
During training camp, Johnson tore his patellar tendon in practice which required season-ending surgery, and then went under the knife again in December to repair bulging discs in his back. The New Orleans’ Iron Man played 15 games in 2000 and finished with a career-high 12 sacks after many thought he’d never play again.
So let’s review those Hall-of-Fame defensive linemen’s stories. Both were phenomenal players for their teams early on, suffered devastating injury late in their careers, only to come back stronger and play the best football of their lives. This sounding familiar at all?
Brandon Graham accomplished those same feats much later in his career and not only set a personal record for sacks (11.0) but still ranks among the top defensive linemen in football during his 13th professional campaign. Furthermore, he’s getting better as the season progresses, having one of the most productive stretches of his historic Eagles’ career from Week 13 onward.
Nothing against the incredible work ethic and perseverance of Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, or Jared Goff (?) but those are young bucks in football years compared to Brandon Graham. Their bodies recover like Wolverine from X-Men. Plus, a 34 year old having the best statistical season of his career after recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon must count for something. Right!?
Brandon Graham Ranks Among ALL NFL Defenders
- 89.8 PFF Defensive Grade (11th)
- 89.2 PFF Pass Rush Grade (16th)
- 11.4 PRP (6th) – formula combing sacks/hits/hurries relative to number of pass rush snaps
- 22.0% win rate (6th)
- 11.0 Sacks (T-13th)
- 11 TFLs (T-22nd)
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