Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz spoke to the media on Tuesday and talked about the impact of the consistency by Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, and what they are expecting to see from Seattle’s offense and their running backs.
Here’s what the DC had to say:
On the defense’s energy in The Linc
“When you go to the playoffs, it’s more about execution and teamwork and all those things. We’ve been in that situation for about the last month now and our guys understand the stakes that are involved in that kind of stuff.
It’ll certainly be nice having the home crowd behind us. I think our players do draw some energy from the crowd. It’s hard not to feel that. I’ve said this before, from the time you park your car in the parking lot, you feel that energy from our stadium.
Our players draw on that, so it’s much easier to play at home that way.”
On the DT/DEs
Schwartz agreed that defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan was disruptive against the Giants and has been on the rise. He said that Jernigan has been playing impactful ball for them over the past few weeks, and are going to need him to continue doing that moving forward.
“He’s one of the best in the game and we’re going to need everybody.”
The DC also spoke about defensive end Derek Barnett and how he’s been playing tough all year, and is “so tenacious”. Barnett isn’t the biggest guy in the world, but he’s plays physical football and hustles.
“We’re going to need him this time. Our pass rush is going to have a big challenge ahead of us. Not just stopping the run and not just attacking the quarterback in the pocket, being able to make plays out of the pocket.
If you think you’re out of the rush, you’re not, because the quarterback has this ability to extend plays for a long time. So, it’ll reward guys that work hard and hustle throughout the play, and Derek does that.”
On the secondary
Schwartz talked about Cre’Von LeBlanc and his snap counts. He said early in the season, the CB’s injury held him back, and since he’s been back, they’ve used him in a sort of dine type role. LeBlanc and Avonte Maddox both play that inside position and it’s really just a matter of the game plan from week-to-week.
“But we’ve always had a lot of confidence in him, and with the injury situation we had, he had to go out and play just about every snap in the game and really came through for us; he’s a really good tackler; tough finishing at the ball.
Our ability to win that game had a lot to do with Cre’Von.”
It was later brought up that Timmy Jernigan was praising Malcolm Jenkins after the game, and the safety stepped in to make a big stop on Saquon Barkley. Schwartz, however, wasn’t surprised and lauded Jenkins for his consistency.
“He’s steady as can be and he’s a good tackler. The job of our guys behind the line is always to sort of fill gaps and make guys right. We’re really not a paint-by-numbers team where everybody has a particular spot. We tend to attack up front and play off of those guys.
So Malcolm is just really instinctive to be able to do that. Some guys it’s like, ‘Okay, this is your gap,’ and they can’t really go off schedule. Malcolm is just really good at creating. If he was a point guard in basketball, he would be really good in the flow of the game, not just running set plays.”
Jenkins isn’t the only consistent player at safety, with Rodney McLeod healthy this season, but Schwartz pointed out that he contributed last season when he was injured, but it’s better to have him on the field.
“He just gives us such a sense of calm on the field because he’s such a good communicator. He’s certainly a valuable part of our team.
You said he was long gone this time last year. He wasn’t long gone. His presence stayed in the building. He was in our DB meetings. He hung around our team. Mentored some of the young guys. We had some young guys playing the safety position. That just shows the kind of guy he was. Some guys can I don’t want to say check out, but it’s hard for some guys to stay involved when they’re injured.
Rodney wasn’t that way. He was with us the whole year last year. It’s nice to have him on the field as opposed to a mentor role.”
On Seattle prep
Schwartz said that he doesn’t think that QB Russell Wilson and the team’s playoff experience will factor into Sunday’s game, because the Eagles have that experience too. But, Wilson is a smart quarterback, doesn’t turn the ball over often, has great mobility, can both extend plays and make plays out of the pocket, not to mention he’s a very accurate passer.
“He’s a smart quarterback. He doesn’t turn the ball over very often. He’s got great mobility. He can extend plays, but he can also just make his plays from the pocket. He’s a very accurate passer.
All those things will be factors in the game that we’re going to have to defend. You don’t bring your resume to the field; you bring your skillset and we’re going to bring ours and we’re going to play hard.”
Despite Seattle’s injuries at running back, Schwartz noted they’re still a top running team. He explained that the team rolled different backs in over the course of the year, and with both Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson injured, they’ll have other guys to step in — including Marshawn Lynch, who they signed last week.
“They’ve always been a good running offense, and I think it sets up a lot of their boot game, a lot of their play-action game. We just got to make sure that we’re up for that. We gave up a long run last time. It wasn’t our best play, but you miss one tackle and they can go the distance. I think all their guys have that ability.”
The DC said it’s hard to tell what Beast Mode will add to the offense, but based on his history, they know he’s a strong running back and a contact runner.
“And it wasn’t just run. They had him involved in the pass game. I don’t know if they got any passes to him, but they were in the passing game with him. So if he’s in the game, we’re going to know; 24 is in the game, we’re going to be ready for him.”
Schwartz was asked whether the run game and it’s potential will affect what they expect to see from Russell Wilson.
“I don’t think he’ll play out of character. He’s got a long history of how he plays. I think that’s one of the reasons he’s been successful. He’s been so consistent. You look at his stats across the board, it’s really amazing how every year he’s just so damn consistent with completion percentage and touchdowns and interceptions, and all those things. Quarterback rating, all those things you can measure a quarterback with. He’s just been so consistent.”
He also said that there wouldn’t likely be many surprises in terms of what the Eagles will do defensively since the last time they played Seattle.
“It’s the playoffs. There is probably not a whole lot of surprises going to go on on either side of the ball. It’ll be about execution. It’ll be about teamwork. It’ll be about toughness, fundamentals. I think those things will have more to do with the game than them coming up with something new or us coming up with something new.”