The Eagles are working to bounce back from their tough loss to the Falcons on Sunday night, and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz spoke to the media on Tuesday about the cornerback and DT rotations, and a bit about how he’s been calling blitzes.
Here’s what the DC had to say:
On blitzes and sacks vs. Atlanta
Schwartz said that he didn’t really call more blitzes than in Week 1 against Washington, maybe more all-out blitzes, specifically. He went on to say that a few times it was really well-executed and they made some key stops, but then they also paid the price on that last touchdown pass to Julio Jones.
He was asked about having back-to-back weeks without notable sack production, and Schwartz noted that it just happens that way. Ultimately, though, he’d rather have interceptions than sacks, so he wasn’t super worried about the numbers. He noted that “sacks are always good”, but getting the quarterback to make and errant throw and force an interception is also a good way to measure production.
Schwartz talked a bit about how you can’t just judge that groups effectiveness in snaps, and that there are a lot of factors that go into them not recording a sack when a quarterback drops back.
On the cornerback rotation
Schwartz was also asked about Ronald Darby and said that he’s got all of his speed back and doesn’t see the ACL as being any kind of issue for him. He noted that Darby rehabbed well and didn’t get a ton of practice during training camp, so sometimes you see a little bit of that — although he didn’t want to go so far as to call it rust at this point in the regular season.
But, he did say that Darby probably wishes he could get some of the plays back from last Sunday. Schwartz did, however, say that he liked how Darby gave up the touchdown but then came back in and got an interception.
The DC talked about how they rotated guys a lot more in Week 1 due to necessity, and that Darby got more snaps in Week 2 because they didn’t have notably long drives. Overall, they were making stops and the drives were much shorter against Atlanta, so they didn’t require as much rotation.
He went on to say that at this point in the season they are operating more on a “taking it as it comes” rather than having a plan.
Later, Schwartz talked about Sidney Jones and said he thought it was a good bounce back for him. The DC noted specifically that he was really happy with how Jones played physically in the run game and tackled well.
On the DT rotation
The defensive coordinator was asked about losing two defensive tackles in back-to-back weeks (Malik Jackson and Timmy Jernigan), to which he replied, “life in the NFL”. He mentioned that last year they went through injuries in other positions, and also at DT, but he said things have a way of settling down after awhile.
He went on to say that there’s a bit of an adjustment period as they bring in new guys, but that’s part of the job description for both coaches and players in the NFL. Schwartz said that they preach all the time that if a player is on the 63-man roster — whether it’s on the practice squad, 53- or 46-man roster — they’ll need to be ready to answer the call at some point in the season.
Later on, Schwartz talked about how they would be able to change to a 3-man rotation and bring in a defensive end. He said that it’s not ideal long term, but they’ve had to do it before and could do it again for a game or two.
He elaborated that it’s not ideal long term because it’s a really long season, and it’s such a tough position, being one of few that sees contact on each and every snap. So, in that sense, they do take an approach to try and keep guys fresh which has served them well long-term.
On Fletcher Cox
Similar to what he noted about Darby, Schwartz was asked how close Fletcher Cox was to being back to how he played before the injury. The DC noted that he doesn’t liken any type of play to the injury, but rather not getting a ton of practice opportunities during training camp.
Schwartz went on to say though that there’s no grading on a curve at this point in the season, and officials aren’t going to call a game based on who is coming back from injury.
“It’s a production league. It’s a what have you done for me lately, but he’ll get there.”
On facing the Lions
Schwartz will be facing his former team next Sunday when the Eagles play the Lions, and the now-defensive coordinator was asked about QB Matthew Stafford.
“You know, it’s funny, I don’t recognize anyone of that team. Matthew Stafford, the long snapper, the punter, and then I think Darrius Slay, might be the only guys that were there. It shows you how much turnover there is in this league, because it really doesn’t seem like that long ago — maybe it has been.
But, Matt’s always been a guy that is a very accurate passer. He’s not afraid to put a ball in any window. He’s got a strong arm, he can make all the throws, he’s a really good game manager — I think that’s maybe gone a little bit under the radar with him.”
He went on to talk about how their coaching staff comes from a bit of run-first type scheme, so it is a little different for Stafford than in the past. Schwartz also noted that there is a little bit of carryover from their preparation for the Falcons, and that Matt Ryan and Stafford are similar in a lot of ways.