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Jim Schwartz lauds Eagles’ veterans for getting the defense back on track against Giants

Plus, he talked about the return of Timmy Jernigan and the d-line rotation.

There have been a lot of personnel changes to the Eagles’ secondary over the past few weeks thanks to a long list of injuries to the defense. Despite those challenges, some of the team’s veteran leaders stepped up and pushed the young group forward.

The mood was light coming after a win, but defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz talked to the media on Tuesday about what’s next as the team prepare for Washington on Monday Night Football.

Here’s what the DC had to say:

On the Giants game

On what changed in the second half against the Giants, Schwartz noted that the changes were really made in the middle of the second quarter. He noted that they were tackling better — saying that they tackled poorly and had some missed assignments early in the game.

He went on to say that it was a weird game overall, with them giving up the most yards ever in the first half of a game, and then follow that by giving up the fewest yards in the second half. And while it might be hard to pinpoint exactly why that was, he was overall proud of the guys for hanging in there and being determined to not let it get away from them.

Schwartz talked about how early on, especially with some of the new guys at secondary, that the Giants were going from huddle to snap really quickly which caused some miscommunication. But once they simplified things a bit, it worked out for them.

Elaborating on the offensive hurry-up by the Giants, Schwartz said that team’s are starting utilize different types of up-tempo stuff. It isn’t always just hurry up and get back to the ball, sometimes the quickness comes after the huddle or sometimes they’ll go double cadence — and it can be the opposite too, where offenses are slowing down at those points.

The DC was asked if Malcolm Jenkins was more dialed in having to pick up some of the slack caused by Jordan Hicks’ injury, but Schwartz noted Jenkins is dialed in no matter where he’s playing. He did say that they moved Jenkins around a bit, but injuries in-game forced them to move away from their dime package in the second half. Schwartz continued to laud the veteran and said that he’s a good overall player and the DC isn’t sure that they would have won that game without a player like Jenkins.

Later on he was asked about Jenkins’ comments last week, and Schwartz admitted he hadn’t heard them, but he did think Jenkins and the other leaders on the team are responsible for part of the bounce back the team was able to make.

On Timmy Jernigan’s return

Schwartz noted that Timmy Jernigan brought some energy during his return. The DC did point out that Jernigan only played about 20 snaps because they didn’t want to tax him too much, too soon, but it was good to have that rotation back.

He went on to say that with Jernigan back in the rotation, he felt like some of the other guys had better production too. Schwartz specifically pointed out Haloti Ngata having a better game, and also talked a bit about Fletcher Cox having an outstanding game despite it not showing up on the stat sheet as much as other players.

Schwartz doubled down that the two biggest factors for the Eagles winning that game — at least on the defensive side — were Malcolm Jenkins and Fletcher Cox. He talked a bit about how in moments like that you need to rely on your veteran players, and thankfully those guys delivered on Sunday.

On the d-line stepping up

Schwartz said that he only called two blitzes during the Giants game — and one was poorly executed resulting in a long touchdown run — but that he only called true man-to-man one time that game.

He went on to talk about how they were trying to protect the secondary a bit which put the onus on the line, and they were up for the challenge. Schwartz touted the fact that several of the sacks led to 3rd and long situations and helped the coverage situation.

Schwartz here continued to talk up Fletcher Cox, saying that not only was he playing at a high level, but he was playing with the type of toughness and leadership that you expect from a guy like that — and it had a lot to do with them coming out with a win.

The DC then went on to talk about Michael Bennett and said that when he went out during the first half, they weren’t sure if he’d be able to return. But he did come back, and had a big sack at the beginning of the third quarter. Bennett was another guy that Schwartz said played with a lot of energy, and when the chips were down he really got going for the team.

It wasn’t just Bennett who was banged up and playing through an injury, Schwartz noted that Nigel Bradham was injured on the first drive of the game and had to tough through it due to depth issues.

On the state of the secondary

Schwartz talked about the young guys needing to improve their tackling, and pointing to that deficiency causing a lot of the issues they had against the Giants in the first half.

He also noted that when Chandon Sullivan went down, that it affected the play calling, and that they knew there were some packages that would need to be shelved and Jenkins would need to move to the nickel.

The DC did say, however, that those kind of injury situations are something they game plan for during the week, and so when it happens on game day, they just tell the players where to line up and it’s back to business.

Schwartz said this isn’t the first time he’s been faced with an incredibly injured group, although he did admit it’s usually later in the season, but that the good news is that several of the guys could still come back this year. The DC has not blamed any of the defense’s struggles this season on injuries, and continues to say that injuries happen and you have to be prepared for them.

On Washington prep

Schwartz was asked about Adrian Peterson, and the DC noted that he’s still strong as can be and has great vision. The DC went on to say that Peterson is the type of guy where even if you get the first hat on him, he has the power to churn out a few more yards, and has become a really important part of Washington’s offense.

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