Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz spoke to the media at the practice field on Monday, and talked a bit about having some of the injured CBs back, what they’re doing at the DT/DE positions, and how they’ve been preparing for Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Here’s what the DC had to say.
On the cornerbacks
Schwartz agreed that getting players back has helped them be a bit more flexible in their matchups.
“Well, it never hurts to have your guys back in there. And then it had increased use of a couple different packages that we really had not gone to this year. This last game, we played some four corners in the game, which is something we really didn’t have enough personnel to be able to do.”
The DC was asked specifically about Sidney Jones, who was a healthy scratch in the Bears game – a week after not getting any snaps. Schwartz said that with getting some of the injured guys back, there are some tough roster decisions that need to be made on Sundays.
“So the one thing we have learned about defensive backs, or just, you know, players in general, we’ll need everybody over the course of the season. So we’ll keep him ready and he’ll be ready every week.”
Schwartz also echoed what Doug Pederson said last week, that special teams contributions have a lot to do with those roster decisions.
One guy Schwartz is happy to have back on the field is CB Jalen Mills. The DC was asked what they’ve seen from Mills since his return to injury, and he was very complimentary.
“Competitive, tough. Never really backing down from a challenge. He’s been a good tackler, all those things. You know, he didn’t lose any of those when he was battling his way back from the injury. It’s good to have his energy back on the field.”
On the DT/DE positions
Schwartz said it was great to have DT Timmy Jernigan back on the field against the Bears, and while a lot has been made about the team’s linebacker and corner back positions, they’ve really been hit at defensive tackle.
“Going into the season, really felt good about Malik [Jackson] and Timmy [Jernigan] and Ridge [Hassan Ridgeway] and all of a sudden we’re looking at none of those three. Took a little while to get some new guys in there and solidify things. A little bit like some of those other guys, getting those guys back on the field, there’s nothing like having those contributors back on the field. He didn’t play a ton, and it was probably unrealistic to think he was going to play more than that, but it was a good start for him and we’ll just see where that goes week-to-week.”
The DC said it will be nice to have Jernigan back for significant reps over the course of the season, but they’ll just have to take it one step at a time.
Schwartz was also asked about newly signed Genard Avery, and said that the DE has some linebacker skills and is a bit of a hybrid player.
“We haven’t had a lot of those guys here. He can drop in coverage a little bit. He can play some linebacker. He can rush. We’ll see where it goes. We were able to get him just a small package based on three days of practice last time. But week-by-week, we’ll see where it takes us. Maybe it will be a little bit more. Maybe it will be a little bit less, but we’re excited to have him. When he did go out there, he was productive for us.”
On LB T.J. Edwards
The undrafted rookie free agent has quietly acquitted himself well.
“T.J. has done really well. We haven’t played a ton of base defense. But he’s gone -- and he’s been a physical tackler for us. I think every week, he’s gotten a little bit better and I think that’s one of the things that you look for from particularly young guys. They get a small role and they are able to, No. 1, gain some trust being in there, but No. 2 sort of get their feet under them and improve from week-to-week, and I think you see that.
The biggest thing with him, he played big-time college football. He was a productive player at Wisconsin. He wasn’t a drafted player, but when you watch him out there, he doesn’t look out of place and the game doesn’t feel too big for him. He goes out, accepts the challenge and he plays physical and does his job within the defense. He hasn’t been perfect, but he’s been trending the right way.”
On Patriots prep
Schwartz talked about how they watched the Super Bowl win against the Patriots during the bye week, and a lot of their scheme has stayed the same. He noted that obviously the quarterback is the same, but other than that, there’s been a lot of turnover on offense.
“When it’s all said and done, they have been a winning team, and regardless of who has been out there. So that’s what the challenge is. The challenge is being able to match-up, being able to tackle, be able to play the run, be able to play the pass and find a way to come out with the win. That’s our job this week.”
He also mentioned that there isn’t a whole lot of carryover from the team they beat in the Super Bowl, and there are different players on both teams. But, Schwartz said that he’s sure the Patriots are referencing that game as well, and there are still things to learn from it despite the differences.
The defensive coordinator also said that even though Tom Brady is still the quarterback, he continues to change and his game continues to evolve which makes each year’s meeting a little different.
“It’s probably a tribute to him to see him evolve over the course of his career, and he’s not the exact same player he was the year before. I think that’s one of the reasons he’s stayed around. He’s done things a little bit different from year-to-year, whether it’s been his training or the way they run the offense or where he’s going with throws and things like that. He’s not the most mobile guy, but he can be hard to bring down sometimes.”
On roster moves
Schwartz pointed questions about safety Andrew Sendejo being released to head coach Doug Pederson and EVP/GM Howie Roseman.
“You know, we appreciate everything that Sendejo had done for us. He was a good contributor for us, a great pro, but you know, there’s a lot of things that go into roster buildup and like I said, we are sort of getting some other guys back, so that gives us a little bit of flexibility going forward, even though we might not get all of them back this week, we do have some guys trending in the right way. That gives us some different ways to handle some of those positions.”
He also said he wasn’t surprised by the success L.J. Fort is having with the Ravens. Schwartz noted the linebacker has been in the league for awhile and they knew he was a good player.
“But again, there’s a lot of different things that come up at that time when we had to release L.J., we were bringing a nickel in to come play, and you know, situations where we were going into the game, knowing we are not going to be playing very much three linebacker defenses based on what the opponent was giving us.
You know, there’s a lot. There’s so many things that go into it, but whether it’s a roster decision, whether it’s a decision for what best serves you special teams-wise, whether it’s an injury, it’s all part of this business. We can’t look at other teams. We have to look at ourselves and find what our formula is.”