As you begin your work week, admit it: The Eagles' 23-9 win Sunday night over the Dallas Cowboys didn’t really feel like a victory. Dallas right now might be one of the worst teams in the NFL and had a deer-in-the-headlights, third-string quarterback, Ben DiNucci, who looked every bit like a seventh-round draft pick from James Madison.
Optimists will say that the Eagles (3-4-1) enter their bye week in first place in the NFC East, but they understand that after the bye week, they have to pick up their game dramatically over the second half of the season.
— Marc Narducci (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Brandon Graham has never had double-digit sacks in a season or made a Pro Bowl. He is on course to do both this season. (While there won’t be a Pro Bowl game played this season, there will still be Pro Bowl teams selected.)
While Eagles fans will use the bye week to complain about the inconsistency of Carson Wentz, Graham has been a model of stability this year. At 32, he is on course to have his best season.
His strip-sack in Sunday’s win was his seventh sack of the season. Here are the NFL sack leaders through Sunday’s games:
Yannick Ngakoue, Baltimore, 10
Myles Garrett, Cleveland, 9
Aaron Donald, LA Rams, 9
Graham, Eagles, 7
That’s some pretty heady company. While sacks don’t totally define a player, they are a good indication of a player’s dominance.
Graham’s season best for sacks is 9.5 in the Eagles' Super Bowl season of 2017. He is also known for the most famous sack in Eagles history, the strip-sack of Tom Brady in the Eagles' 41-33 victory in Super Bowl LII.
Graham’s strip-sack of DiNucci was a key early-game play Sunday night. Leading by 3-0 in the first quarter, Dallas had a second-and-goal from the Eagles' 7-yard line when Graham’s strip-sack and fumble recovery halted some serious early momentum.
“That was a kick-start of what we were trying to do to get going in the game,” he said.
Besides having his best start to a season, Graham is also valuable because of his durability. Over the past eight years, he has missed just one game, and that is when Pederson rested many of his starters in the final game of the Super Bowl season. The Eagles had already clinched the No. 1 seed.
Graham, the Eagles' first round pick in 2010 (13th overall), also has played well against the run this season. It could be argued that he has been the Eagles' first-half MVP.
Question: When is Carson Wentz going to stop holding the ball too long and fumbling? — Michael Spear on Facebook
Answer: Thanks for the question, Michael. While the Eagles have had so many injuries on the offensive line, many of Wentz’s turnovers are his fault. A classic case was this first fumble against Dallas, where he had about eight seconds and should have thrown the ball away.
While Wentz should be commended for never giving up on a play, he also can get himself hurt leaving himself exposed like that. On that first fumble, he took a major shot.