The Eagles’ defense has fresh off a dominant performance in Week 5, but fell very short just a week later against the Vikings. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz talked about issues with the secondary, needing more production from their linebackers, and his thoughts on the pass rush.
Here’s what the DC had to say:
On Zach Brown’s release and the LB position
Schwartz said that specifics regarding Brown’s release was more of a question for Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson.
“I will say this: We need more production from our linebacker position in general.”
The DC did mentioned that Kamu Grugier-Hill is coming off of his preseason due to his injury delaying the start of the season. Schwartz said they are excited about getting him back into the more leadership role he had during the offseason.
With Zach Brown no longer with the team, and them hoping for more production, Schwartz was asked whether they would look for more from linebacker T.J. Edwards.
“All that kid has done when we put him in the game is make the plays that have come to him. He has been physical, he has been a sure tackler, and he has been assignment sound. Those are all three good things to be said about a linebacker. He has made steady progress through training camp to preseason, and then regular season in games that he was thrown out there due to injury. It is a tough situation when you go out there due to injury, particularly being a young player, because you have no practice reps, but he was up to the task. Just like any of our players, he is expected to be up to the task.”
On the secondary and their issues on Sunday
Schwartz agreed that there were miscommunication issues on the backend against the Vikings.
“Hold them out of field-goal range, get a three-and-out. Instead, not only did we not do our job, but we gave up a quick play. That is something that we can’t allow further in the future. It wasn’t just one guy open, there were three guys wide open on that play. It wasn’t a new coverage or anything else, but when it is all said and done, that is my responsibility and we can’t let it happen again.”
Malcolm Jenkins had discussed why he didn’t make the assignment following the game, and Schwartz was asked what happened on the other side of the deep post. The DC said he won’t get into specific situations, but they wanted to get their corners some help with their matchups and instead the opposite happened.
He was also asked why the defense is so susceptible to deep balls, and he mentioned specifically against the Vikings that every single one of them was a different coverage.
“If it is one thing, it is a little easier to put it in a box and be able to deal with it, but we have been battling inconsistency. I always say up here how we play, 3-3, well that’s the way we have played defense. We have played defense good and bad. Last week, we had a really good game. This week, we played a poor game. We need to get out of that, and we need to trend up and be consistent and we are striving for that, including our deep balls.”
Schwartz mentioned that they’ll be happy to get Jalen Mills back when he’s able to play at 100%, noting that the CB is experienced, tough, and a good tackler.
He’s also often talked about how CBs specifically have to be able to put a bad play behind them and move on to the next. Regarding whether he feels Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas have that quality, Schwartz said, “Inconsistently”.
“I don’t know that any of those were lack of confidence or putting the play behind them, but it was -- whether it was a penalty, whether it was a physical error or a technique error, which is a physical error, or a communication error, another bad play ended up rolling up on them. That’s the life they live.
There were a lot of technique errors, a lot of miscommunications in every game with D-linemen and linebackers and everything else. Whether you win the game like we did against the Jets or lose a tough game like we did against the Vikings, generally those don’t get the attention that the cornerback position takes. That’s part of that job description, that scrutiny.”
On the pass rush
Schwartz was asked if he felt he was getting enough production from his pass rush, and the DC focused on Sunday’s game against the Vikings.
“If you watch how many times those guys got one-on-ones, it wasn’t very often. It was either play action with heavy protection, double chip, slide protection, all those different things and you need your coverage to – they don’t have much of a chance on those kinds of plays. The games that people have tried to neutralize our edge rush with chips and things like that you rely on your coverage more to be able to handle it.
We ran a zero blitz into a stone cold, stone wall on one. [S] Malcolm [Jenkins] was able to make a good play and get the guy out of bounds, but they weren’t going to let themselves be blitzed in this game. That was sort of the way it was. Whether it is an edge rush or anything else, you need maybe a little bit more in your coverage, make the quarterback hold the ball a little bit more. All of those things go together. We need a little bit more out of our defense in general, not just our edge pass rushers. We don’t need them to do anything out of character. We don’t need them to take shots at plays that don’t come to them. We need them to do their job. When they are asked, just like the same with corners on deep balls or our safeties on deep coverages or anything else.”