The Giants lose, and when teams lose, their coordinators do not get head coach talks.
But when Giants defensive coordinator Pat Graham was left out of an NFL list of 11 surveyed 2022 minority leadership candidates, it did not speak to many people around the NFL.
“Pat Graham should be on that list,” a league manager with no connection to Graham told the Daily News.
Graham, 42, turned down the Jets’ interview offer last free season after his defense was the backbone of a robust 6-10 Giants team that nearly reached the playoffs.
Joe Judge’s second Giants season has dropped to 4-11 with two games left, losing four in a row and five of their last six. But the offense has been their downfall.
Graham’s game plans have kept the Giants in most of the games they have lost. And his defense is largely solely responsible for three of the Giants’ four wins.
There was a 25-3 snuff-out by the Carolina Panthers on October 24th. There was the 23-16 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on November 7, when safety Xavier McKinney returned an interception for a touchdown.
And there was the Giants’ 13-7 victory over the Eagles on November 28, when Graham’s defense reversed Philadelphia’s attack six times.
That’s why sources still expect Graham to receive interest in the head coach for the second year in a row, even as the team continues to lose.
Graham has done this without center-back Blake Martinez and strong safety Jabrill Peppers. He’s done it with James Bradberry’s top corner who’s had a bad year. He has done so with players in and out of the lineup due to COVID-19 and injuries, and with very little edge talent rushing the quarterback.
The early part of the season was messy as Graham tried to incorporate more man coverage and extra arrangements, but when the staff could not handle it, he returned more to the combat zone coverage and zones that served him best in 2020.
“For me, you just keep working and trying to find a way,” Graham said just before Christmas about how he puts together a game plan. “Look at the tape, keep sharpening the tape through. I keep just looking at it myself the night before. I learned that when I was in New England.”
The referee said that Graham’s ability to remove top offenders boils down to the Bill Belichick approach taken from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”, which is to attack an opponent’s weaknesses, use his own strengths and protect his own weaknesses from being exploited . .
Judge (2012-19) and Graham (2009-15) worked together on Belichick’s Patriots staff and are now collaborating on the Giants’ weekly defensive game plan and its alignment with the whole. Graham spent a year with the Packers ‘linebackers and another as the Dolphins’ coordinator before accompanying Judge to New York.
Graham’s work ethic is as honored as his calls in the game. He recently joked that he hates holidays during the season because he just considers them another working day. Captain Logan Ryan said it sounded a lot like his DC.
“Pat is very extreme in that sense, a little grinch when it comes to those things,” Ryan said with a laugh. “But it’s the truth. It’s Pat. He works and works and works, and that’s what he’s known for, and it’s worked well for him. Pat’s it all for our organization, and he’s a great family man, too. . ”
Would Graham be hired if he interviews? Who should say. Would the Giants give him another pay raise to deter him from interviewing, as they did with the Jets? Maybe.
However, there is respect for Graham around the league, even though the Giants are losing and even though the NFL inexplicably also overlooked him.
HEART BREAK IN CHICAGO
Chicago-based ESPN reporter Jeff Dickerson tragically died of complications from colon cancer at the age of 44 last Tuesday, also two years after his wife Caitlin died of cancer. They are survived by an 11-year-old son, Parker.
So the sports world stepped up last week to support Parker Dickerson, helping push the “Parker’s Fund” GoFundMe page over $ 1 million raised. The Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Washington Football Team, and Indianapolis Colts all donated $ 25,000 apiece, leading the way as several other organizations and owners contributed, including the Jets ($ 10,000).
ESPN’s national news anchor Adam Schefter promoted the site to his 8.9 million followers to help fundraise, and Schefter committed himself to $ 5,000 to put it over a million in total as he entered the new year.
Ben Roethlisberger said this week that “all indications are that this could be it,” his last game at Heinz Field on Monday Night Football against the Cleveland Browns. Roethlisberger, 39, a future Hall of Famer, is expected to retire at the end of the season.
However, it’s all so anticlimactic for a player who was once so great. Similar to the Giants ‘reluctance to part with Eli Manning, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ insistence on letting Roethlisberger dictate the timing and terms of his broadcast dragged the franchise down.
The Steelers (7-7-1) have a chance to get into the playoffs, but they are unlikely to do so. The favorite tale in Pittsburgh is to blame the oversized personalities of their talented players for the team’s shortcomings. The quarterback has been a problem and it’s time he goes.
CHURCH AND KARMA
Unvaccinated Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins described a “survival of the fittest” personal approach to COVID-19 back in July 2020.
“If I die, I die,” Cousins said at the time on the “10 questions with Kyle Brandt” podcast.
Now the Cousins have tested positive and are out for the Vikings’ critical match against the Green Bay Packers, with Minnesota (7-8) NFC’s eighth seed and first team out of a current playoff spot.
Unvaccinated Indianapolis Colts QB Carson Wentz was lucky to see the NFL’s COVID policies changed this week with the CDCs to welcome any player back five days after a positive test.
So Wentz was activated from the reserve list on Saturday and is expected to be available for Sunday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Washington head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio have a lot to answer for after last week’s embarrassing 56-14 loss in Dallas. Defensive lineman Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen swung at each other on the sideline. There are some people in the NFL who think that Washington’s coaching staff should monitor if this slippage continues. … Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow completed 37 of 46 passes for 525 yards, four TDs, no revenue and a 143.2 QB rating in a 41-21 victory over the Baltimore Ravens last week. It was the fourth most passing yards in a single match of all time. Top three? Norm Van Brocklins 554 for the LA Rams in 1951, Matt Schaubs 527 for the Houston Texans in 2012 and Warren Moons 527 for the Houston Oilers in 1990. AFC North-leading Bengals (9-6) host the Kansas City Chiefs (11) -4) , AFC’s topseed, Sunday of week 17’s most exciting matchup.
THEY SAID IT
“I would say eat less, but then I would feel like Pinocchio.” – Chiefs coach Andy Reid on his New Year’s resolution.