Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz spoke to the media on Tuesday morning and talked about game planning for the Giants, how the Eagles’ secondary continues to change due to circumstances, and a bit about the defensive lineman. He wouldn’t, however, talk about his involvement in personnel decisions or about any of those decisions made recently — “nice try,” he said with a smirk when asked about it.
Here’s what the defensive coordinator had to say:
On game planning for the Giants
Even though they are familiar with Jason Garrett from his time with the Cowboys, Schwartz pointed out that he had a few different OC’s in Dallas so that won’t all be the same. But, he also noted that there are some similarities, in terms of the OL coach coming with Garrett, so there could be some carry over.
He further explained that they take every team and prepare for them independently of their past, but after all the breakdowns, they can DNA match it for carryover.
Schwartz chuckled while admitting that Giants QB Daniel Jones is the teams leading rusher, but they did some zone-read stuff with him last year, as well. Jones can surprise people with his mobility, converting third downs, and they can’t let that happen on Thursday. The QBs ability to extend plays has shown up a little more than last year without Saquon Barkley, but the run game hasn’t really changed with the other guys on the roster.
On Brandon Graham’s 60 percent snap count vs. Baltimore
“BG is one of our best players, and you are right. I think in that game, particularly when you are chasing a scrambling quarterback — and you see it all over the film, a great player like Lamar Jackson, and you see defensive lineman out of gas that can’t give relentless effort, just because they ran 40 yards on the play before and have to go out and do it again on the next play. So, we made a very concerted effort to try and keep guys as fresh as we could in that game. So, it really had nothing to do with anything other than that.
On the defensive line
Schwartz emphasized that it’s all about consistency for Josh Sweat, and repeatable motion and the footwork that goes into that — something that is often overlooked, but equally as important for a defensive lineman. The consistency with footwork is where they make plays in the run game and the efficiency of the pass rush, and Sweat has made a big effort to be more consistent.
The DC later noted that it was good to have Vinny Curry back, he’s a physical player who helped them stop Baltimore’s running backs. As far as Genard Avery taking fewer snaps, Schwartz said that game situations can sort out snap counts a bit, and that having so many healthy defensive ends to rotate is a good way to keep guys fresh.
On the linebackers
Schwartz was asked about the two rookies LBs who got defensive snaps against the Ravens, Shaun Bradley and Davion Taylor. He explained that because of injuries, and roster availability, they only had four linebackers.
“It’s all hands on deck.”
There was also opportunity for those guys because they often played with an extra backer against some of Baltimore’s bigger packages. The DC echoed what he’s said in the past, that they only judge themselves on wins and losses, and it was a loss. But, he did say, that all those guys have shown progress and it’s an important step for them to see playing time, but they’re working hard to improve every week.
Schwartz also pointed out that they were able to see Davion Taylor’s speed a little bit when he took off after Jackson. It wasn’t the LBs play, but he saw Jackson pull the ball back, and the QB is not an easy guy to chase down.
On the secondary
As far as Jalen Mills back at safety, and how they used Will Parks, Schwartz talked about how the decisions being based on who they had available. They didn’t have Marcus Epps, and they like Snead in the slot — he’s a tough, physical blocker —, and also some of it was based on matchups.
After the first series, he thought Nickell Robey-Coleman settled down and “did an outstanding job.” Schwartz also noted that it was probably the longest NRC had played corner going back to his college days at USC. The DC said it was another unselfish move by someone who is probably suited for the slot.
“A big part of Mills in this game was trying to get [Mark] Andrews covered, man-to-man, and we liked — we wanted to accentuate that matchup, too. So, our guys have a do-whatever-it-takes mentality, it’s going to be a little different on a weekly basis. Sometimes it’s due to injury, sometimes it’s just due to matchup, sometimes it’s due to responsibility in the game plan, but they’re up for the challenge.”
Schwartz didn’t want to get into what they might do on Thursday night, and whether Robey-Coleman would stay in the slot, or if they might get Avonte Maddox back. But, he thought Cre’Von LeBlanc and Will Parks both did some good things in that role on Sunday, as well.
The DC also was sure to point out that Rodney McLeod had another outstanding game, despite the loss, and has taken another step fulfilling some of those multi-dimensional holes that opened up when Malcolm Jenkins left.