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Inside the Numbers: Graham is as Good as He Looked

Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Redskin
LANDOVER, MD – SEPTEMBER 10 – Carson Wentz was great Sunday but there is still room for improvement. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

(973espn.com) – With the help of ProFootballFocus.com, 973espn.com will be taking you inside the numbers after each Philadelphia Eagles game this season.

During the Eagles’ 30-17 Kickoff Weekend win over Washington, Brandon Graham dominated to the naked eye and that was confirmed by the film. The second-team All-Pro finished with six quarterback pressures (two sacks, four hurries) to give him a pass rush productivity figure of 14.7, according to PFF, which ranked third among all 4-3 ends heading into “Sunday Night Football.”

Linemate Fletcher Cox was nearly as dominant as well, recording five pressures from the interior, which was the tied for the most among defensive tackles with San Francisco’s DeForest Buckner. Cox also did it against great competition, lining up primarily over star right guard Brandon Scherff for 23 of his 36 pass-rush snaps.

If you thought defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was more aggressive with the blitz, you were correct and he did it consistently with a 36.6 blitz percentage on first down, 37.1 on second down and up to 39.1 on third down. The 2016 average blitz percentage in the NFL was only 30.1 percent.

Middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, who doesn’t blitz often, was very effective when he did, rushing Kirk Cousins four times and getting pressure on two occasions.

As for the Redskins game plan, it was designed to go after Jalen Mills, who was targeted an insane 15 times, four more than any other CB in the NFL heading into SNF. Mills allowed 10 receptions for 108 yards but also battled and picked up an interception and a PBU.

Torrey Smith’s presence on the offensive side of the ball had the Eagles attempting to stretch the field, a welcome development even if it wasn’t all; that successful in Week 1. Carson Wentz threw six deep pass attempts (throws of 20-yards-or-more), tied for the second most in his young career. The bad news is that only one of the six was deemed catchable by PFF.

Wentz’s passer rating when targeting Nelson Agholor was 149.0, however, third highest of any WR on Sunday afternoon.

In the run game, the Eagles proved to be left-handed, running the ball behind Isaac Seumalo and Jason Peters (or Halapoulivaati Vaitai) more than twice as often, 14 to six. Philadelphia has more success behind Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson, however, especially when LeGarrette Blount was running it. Blount ran to the left 10 times and averaged just 2.5 yards per attempt. On runs to the right, Blount had an average per attempt of 5.3 on four carries.

In pass blocking the offensive line was as shaky as it looked, giving up 17 QB pressures (two sacks, three QB hits and 12 hurries). That was tied with Arizona for the second most allowed on Sunday and the overall pass block efficiency of 69.2 was fourth lowest. Vaitai struggled mightily after replacing Peters (groin), surrendering one sack, one QB hit, and two hurries in 29 pass block snaps.

-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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