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Jim Schwartz talks up Brandon Graham, T.J. Edwards, and the Giants

The latest from the Eagles’ defensive coordinator.

Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz spoke to the media for the first time since the team’s big Week 8 win over the Cowboys, and talked about the important of Brandon Graham, how T.J. Edwards isn’t someone he has to limit calls for, and what he expects to see from the Giants just 3 weeks since they last faced off.

Schwartz was asked about Nate Gerry’s injury, but turfed that one to either head coach Doug Pederson or the linebacker himself.

But, here’s what the DC did have to say:

On Brandon Graham

Schwartz said that you can look throughout the NFL at defensive ends having success as they get older, but later noted that Graham having what could end up being one of his best seasons at 32 years old is not by mistake — the defensive end has passion for the game and puts a lot of energy into his craft.

“He always keeps his energy up on the field, on the sideline, during practice, during the breakfast line — he’s a guy that just embraces every part of this thing. He’s always talking about football, he’s always excited about the next challenge. Enjoys practice, enjoys meetings, so it’s not just what you’re seeing on Sunday from him, it’s what you see, that’s just him in his daily life. You know, how you do something is how you do everything, and that’s the way BG handles it and he’s an important leader for us. He’s got a lot of experience, he’s seen a lot of things, he knows how to persevere through hard times, and that’s a great example to a lot of the younger players.”

On T.J. Edwards

Schwartz talked about Edwards playing good before he was injured and was playing really well against San Francisco before being sidelined with a hamstring issue.

“He’s a strong player. He can fill those interior gaps. He’s probably our best linebacker when it comes to being physical at the line of scrimmage and taking on guards and tackles, and taking offensive linemen off of double teams, and things like that. And, he’s a reliable tackler. Made a big play when it counted.”

He was later asked about Edwards’ athleticism and he noted that the LB was a very productive player in college at Wisconsin, and even though he didn’t run a great 40 yard dash, he’s been productive when he’s been healthy. Schwartz said that he doesn’t recall ever having to limit calls with him in the game, and he’s been able to do everything they’ve asked of him.

On facing the Giants again so quickly

Schwartz said that there is familiarity with a team that they’ve faced less than a month ago, but these teams are super familiar as division opponents, as well. He expects both teams to try some of the things they had success with a few weeks ago, but the DC joked, “Hopefully you won’t see us give up any 90 yard runs to quarterbacks this week.”

He explained that the team who plays with the most spirit and fundamentals will be more important than if either team comes up with a new wrinkle for their opponent.

Later on, Schwartz talked about how the Giants have a lot of playmakers and since getting Sterling Shephard back, he’s seen an increased role — including more snaps in the slot. He went on to note that their tight end makes a lot of plays on jet sweeps, and they’ve introduced a lot more zone read concepts for their run game with Saquon Barkley out. Darius Slayton is a guy who can break the game open and make plays — the Eagles defense did a good job last time to keep his contributions limited, and they’ll have to do that again.

The DC said that it’s an evolving offense that struggled earlier in the season, but they’ve done a better job taking care of the ball the past few weeks. They’ve changed their run game just a little bit, and now they have to manufacture some runs — they got guys back from injury, too.

Other notables

Michael Jacquet

Schwartz said that a lot of guys are getting opportunities to play throughout the league as Saturday and Sunday call-ups due to injury and COVID, including Eagles’ Michael Jacquet. The DC noted that Cre’Von LeBlanc wasn’t about to play, and they weren’t expecting Jacquet to have to play, but then Darius Slay came out and he was ready to step in. Schwartz explained that the best way to put it, is that you didn’t notice he was out there — which for a corner, he mentioned, was a good thing.

On the passing of Alex Trebek

Schwartz explained that he learned a lot about what it takes to be a football coach from watching Jeopardy and how the host prepared himself. He said that they would play along for fun in an ultracompetitive environment when he was a Sophomore and Junior in college, and it emphasized for him that it’s not just about getting the correct answer, but getting it faster than everyone else — which is important when the ball is snapped in a football game and decisions have to be made quickly.

Trebek and how he handled his hosting duties also showed Schwartz that practice is important, having command over your situation is important, thinking quickly is important — all things that Alex Trebek did daily for decades. He was always prepared and it showed in his performance.

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