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Jim Schwartz explains Eagles’ defensive struggles against Dolphins, penalties, and more

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Plus, the Eagles’ DC talks preparing for Eli Manning.

The Eagles were back to work on Wednesday and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz spoke to the media about the defense’s struggles against the Dolphins, why they had so many penalties, and what they expect to see from Eli Manning on Monday night.

Here’s what the DC had to say:

On the struggles against Miami

Schwartz talked about how they started the game really well with the interception on the first play and then two quick stocks and a sack. But then, the Dolphins got a wildcat run for a bit of yards.

“I really think that was such a critical point of that game. That just gave them life. They were able to make that play. The quarterback threw a 50/50 ball up there. They made it; we didn’t.”

He continued to explain that they didn’t just make the fourth down in that situation, they scored a touchdown and gave them some momentum to get back into the game.

“That game is 100% on the defense. We always feel if you give us 20 points we should win the game, and we certainly got more than 20. We didn’t do our jobs in that game, and as a result we got a loss.”

The DC then talked a bit about how they are generally a really good wildcat team, and Sunday’s game was one of the worst against wildcat play since he’s been in Philly. He explained that wildcat leaves one guy unaccounted for, and it was just one bad fit.

“All of a sudden the ball was on our edge and we gave up a chunk. Now, they came right back to that play and tried to run it and we stopped it -- tackle for a loss or a gain of zero, which we should.”

And, it wasn’t just some of those small plays that hurt them, it was getting away from all the things they were doing well last month, like playing clean, no-penalty football.

“Coming into that game we were I think sixth in the NFL in defensive fouls. So we had done a pretty good job there of not giving off-sides -- I can’t remember last time we were off-sides before that game. We hadn’t given guys a lot of free chances or second chances to be able to make plays.”

Schwartz then went into a lot of detail about how they previously were really strong in their ability to play 50/50 balls. He said that he counted 13 50/50 balls and they only won four of them.

“The formula that helped us to keep scoring down and keep us in games flipped the script on us. We gave them second opportunities with fouls, three offside, two DPIs, and two roughing the quarterbacks.

Then the 50/50 balls, and some of those 50/50s were man, some were zone, some of them were blitz, some of them weren’t. We didn’t make the plays.”

He also noted that there’s no excuse for missing that many contested plays, including very tall receivers. The DC pointed out that the corners can jump and you’re not going to win 100% of those, but they have to do better.

Schwartz agreed that there is merit to going with a two-deep safety look when the corners aren’t winning their 50/50s — in fact, that was their adjustment against Green Bay. But, against Miami, the QB moved the ball down the middle where they were weak.

“Again, we sort of decided to go with our strength. What has been our strength over the last month have been our corners defending one-on-one on the outside part of the field and playing tight coverage and playing penalty free.

We didn’t get that done in this game.”

On all the penalties against the Dolphins

Jalen Mills PI on 3rd and 10

“I liked his position there. He has eyes for the ball. He’s inside out on the quarterback. It’s sort of like where that ball was thrown and the way that guy’s body action went, his hands sort of got stuck on him. We had almost overcome that because we had first-and-goal on the one and we had got them to a fourth down.”

Offsides

“There is no excuse for the offsides. And we had played pretty clean that way. They had actually gone to silent cadence because our fans were down there making some noise. We just tried to jump too many times on those and we got caught and put ourselves in a bad position.”

Timmy Jernigan’s roughing the passer

“He was trying to do the right thing. He was trying to lower his aiming point on the quarterback and he’s coming sort of like right toward the chest and the guy is getting hit and rolled and falling down, and all of a sudden he’s hitting him in the head.

It wasn’t like he was up launching at a guy’s head or he was being careless. I think it was just sort of the cost of doing business -- the quarterback started going. The other one when he’s down on the ground, what the league wants you to do is they want you to, as you’re falling, they want you to move out of the way and try to swipe him with your arm and not have forcible contact.”

On the energy of the defense

Despite the situation, Schwartz said he never saw the defense lose their energy.

“Our guys battled. There are a lot of times in games that you look and you say, ‘We let up at that point or the guys lost their spirit’ or whatever it was. I didn’t see any of that in this game.”

He pointed to one missed tackle that led to a first down, but other than that, the guys were still making plays.

“The rest of the game I thought our guys were flying around. We were snuffing the run game pretty good. We were making a lot of tackles for losses. We were hitting the quarterback. We just didn’t make the plays that we needed to.”

Schwartz continued to say that in a game like that, it’s one play that makes a difference — maybe a strip-sack or a big pass break-up on fourth down that could change the game outcome completely.

On facing the Giants and Eli Manning

Schwartz talked about how Eli Manning and Daniel Jones are different types of quarterback, and Jones was more of a scrambler and was the Giants’ second-leading rusher. Manning on the other hand, isn’t a huge part of the run game, but they also know that Manning isn’t doing to hold it as long in the pocket.

“Their playmakers stay the same. Looks like they’ll probably get Engram back and he’s an important part of that offense. Get Golden Tate back. He’s an important part of that offense. They have good playmakers and a good running back.”

He admitted that Manning being the starter does change the dynamic of the quarterback position a little bit, but they’ve faced both types of QBs throughout the season.