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Jim Schwartz: “Our corners aren’t playing very well right now”

A talkative Schwartz dished on plenty.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Schwartz spoke Tuesday morning. He was very chatty. Here’s what he talked about:

On why he’s talking Tuesday instead of Thursday

When you get me right before going out to practice, my mind is certainly not on talking to you guys. I’m trying to get mentally ready for practice. And the other part would be, I ain’t trying to make it tough, but when we started with Derek, talking about media, I said the one criteria I have with speaking to the media is I never want to speak on the same day the head coach speaks. I have way too much respect for that chair. I’ve sat in that chair. I’ve got way too much respect for Doug, and the chair he’s got to sit in, to speak on the same day.

On whether the entire team gave full effort on Sunday

I think any time things aren’t going well, you’re looking at everything that you can, whether it’s schemes, whether it’s individual effort, whether it’s collective effort. It’s a tough situation, it’s 29-0 in this game. Here’s what I would say about that, and I actually talked to the defense about it this morning: when it’s all said and done, we have to take the most pride in our effort.

Sometimes there might be a difference between effort and energy. It’s hard to have energy when you’re down 29-0. It’s not hard to have effort. I think you saw us have effort. It’s 29-0, we give up a first down, and Bennie Logan runs 25 yards down the field and causes a fumble. That’s the beginning of the fourth quarter. You don’t do that without effort.

We cut it to two scores with six minutes to play, and didn’t get the onside kick. 24 years in the NFL, don’t tell me about a two-score game with six minutes to play. I’ve been on both sides of those. ... I’m encouraged by all those things. You don’t always play your best, but I’m encouraged by those kinds of things. I think I would agree we need to play with more energy, and that’s a hard thing, too. You’re down 29-0. You get a sack, you’re still down 29-0.

On the defense’s early problems

I think if we had a handle on that, if you could put a formula on that every game, I think anybody in sports, whether it’s football and the Eagles, whether it’s baseball, or hockey, or basketball, you’d have a pretty good monopoly. There’s human nature that goes into this game. We didn’t start the game very well. We went three and out on offense, they got the ball at midfield, we gave up a field goal. We had a chance to get an interception. Man, what a change that would’ve made. Imagine we make that play, get that interception, get that lead. You’re probably writing a different story, saying, ‘Man, they did have energy to start.’

I think that goes to what I was talking to the guys about today. Regardless of what that scoreboard says, you’ve got to come out and play. There’s the camaraderie ... it’s too precious not to. I was... I don’t want to say disappointed, but disappointed might be a fine word, or an okay word. We need to play with more energy, whether it’s at the beginning or at the end, at that’s the challenge every week.

On Rodney McLeod’s possible non-effort on a tackle

I don’t want to say you’re off base, but I looked at that play, because Derek brought it to my attention, and his fit on that play is not inside. It’s outside. And he got caught flat-footed. He’s getting ready to fit back-side, all of a sudden the ball pops out front side, and he wasn’t expecting him right there. I’ll tell you what, I’ll put my name on Rodney McLeod any day. That guy plays the way the game’s supposed to be played. He’s tough, he’s not the biggest guy on the field, but that guy’s a warrior and he’s going to do everything he can to win a game.

Feel the need to talk to guys now about energy?

We talk all the time, and this goes back to training camp. For nine weeks, you probably couldn’t mention the best defenses in the NFL without mentioning the Eagles. The last three? You probably can’t mention worst defenses in the league without mentioning the Eagles. Hey, that’s the facts of life, man. That’s what it is. Same scheme, same players other than Ron Brooks.

We’re in a slump. We have to own that. We’re in a three-game slump. We’ve had good and bad games in that nine-game stretch, but these last three, we’ve been in a slump for a lot of reasons. The last two games, third down’s been a significant part of that. This last game, penalties had a significant part in that. So to go back to the effort question, those penalties weren’t from a lack of attention, or from lack of composure. They were aggressive penalties.

Brandon Graham is fighting to get to the quarterback. He has 300-pounders fighting him, he’s off balance, he goes low on the quarterback. He knows he can’t go low on the quarterback. He’s trying to get him. He knows if he swipes his leg, he’s got a better chance.

On the Jaylen Watkins penalty

If you gave me the choice of Jaylen Watkins getting that foul there, or that guy passing on that hit and the guy fighting for the first down, we all would’ve lost our Philadelphia card right there. You’d never be able to step out for pizza in South Philly if he hadn’t tried to make that play. But that doesn’t change the fact that penalties and third downs had a big effect on that game.

On just rushing four men

We blitzed an awful lot in this game. I think I called 19 blitzes. A couple of them we audibled out of. Cincy was going to try to make it hard to blitz. A couple of those looks, you might get sued for malpractice if you try to blitz those looks. They’re in max protect, they want you to blitz and keep you light in coverage.

Facts were, in this game, we got beat in blitz, we got beat in zone, we got beat in Cover 2, we got beat in 2 Man, we got beat in 6. We got beat in every one. We rolled through all of them, and facts of life, our corners aren’t playing very well right now. Doesn’t mean I’ve lost confidence in them. Those are the same bunch of corners that shut down some of the best offenses in the NFL. But we’re in a slump.

It didn’t matter what we were calling against Atlanta or Minnesota, I said, ‘It didn’t matter what I was calling. They were all working.’ And this game, it didn’t matter what we were calling. It wasn’t working. I watch enough baseball and talk baseball, baseball players deal with slumps all the time. The only thing you can do with a slump is go back to basics. Go back to technique. If you’re a corner, it’s about two things: it’s about technique, and it’s about confidence. We’re not playing with a lot of confidence at corner, and we need to tighten up our technique.

On investing in safeties versus investing in corners

A lot of it is availability, also. There are a lot of great corners in the league who don’t become available in free agency. You’ve got to take every opportunity you can to improve our team, any way you can. There’s something to be said for being strong up the middle, also.

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