The Eagles defense had a pretty good night on Monday against the Seahawks, and Jim Schwartz spoke to reporters Tuesday morning about his intended compliment to DK Metcalf, why he appreciated Darius Slay’s performance against the WR, and also a bit about Aaron Rodgers and Sunday’s Green Bay matchup.
Here’s what the defensive coordinator had to say:
On his comments to DK Metcalf
“I can’t believe that paying a compliment to a player has become such a big thing.
Before I even go into that, I want say, everybody needs to know what a high — the high esteem that I hold for Calvin Johnson. Calvin was not only the best player I’ve ever coached, he was the best player I ever coached against, and I think he’s one of the great players in the history of the National Football League.
I had 5 years of up close and personal of every defensive coordinator’s No. 1 job was to stop Calvin Johnson, and ran every tricked up defense known to man and he still made the plays. And, he was incredibly hard worker, underreported with him. Great person, and just the honor of my career to coach a guy like Calvin Johnson.
So, in my mind it’s a little bit funny, anytime you even speak somebody’s name in the same sentence as Calvin Johnson, I don’t know how you could take offense to that. I tried to pay the guy a compliment, said I read his story, knew he’d overcome injury, heard he was a hard worker, and said he reminds me a little of Calvin and congratulated him after the game. And at the time, he told me, ‘Hey, thanks coach, that means a lot to me.’
So, if anybody wants to take offense to being compared to, who I think is one of the greatest players in the history of the National Football League, then yeah, if you get your motivation that way then fine, but we’re not going to worry too much about that.”
On Darius Slay vs Metcalf
Schwartz appreciates Slay’s accountability after the game, but also appreciates that his confidence hasn’t waivered despite Metcalf having a big day.
“I appreciate that from Slay. We put a real, real big hat on Slay in that game because we gave him no help. And I would like to say, with a player like that, never once during the week did he ask where his help was going to come from, never once during the game did he say, ‘I need some help.’ He just kept going out there and battling. He didn’t have the greatest day. He knows that. And really the only play I was disappointed with Slay in was the zero blitz. We knew it’s a low-scoring game. We’re trying to keep them out of field goal range. I run a zero blitz at mid-field, and he needs to be over the top and inside of that route and gave that one up.”
Schwartz went on to explain that by Slay being locked in on Metcalf 1-on-1, and accepting that he wasn’t going to get any help in coverage, they were able to limit Russell Wilson scrambles, keep a lid on their run game, and have success on third downs. The DC admitted it wasn’t Slay’s best game, but it allowed them to do so many other good things on defense, and the corner was able to keep Metcalf out of the endzone which was a big deal, too.
“Slay took it for the team, and I was proud of him for that. I was proud of his accountability, but a lot of that accountability is me too because that was the game plan. It was put him one-on-one and try to keep him out of the end zone and it’s all about limiting their offense. It’s not about limiting one player.”
He was asked if Slay will stay in that role as they face some other dominant receivers through the rest of the season, and Schwartz said that every game is different, but it does make his job a little easier knowing he has a guy willing to take on that kind of responsibility.
“I’ve always told guys in the NFL playing coverage is a lot like guarding in the NBA, and my analogies have gone, like old but it used to — hey, look, you can play great defense against Michael Jordan and he will still score 20. If you play crappy defense, he’s going to put 45 on the scoreboard. You got to just keep being resilient and know sometimes they’re going to hit a 20-foot turnaround fall away jumper and you just got to hike your socks up and come back for the next play.
On facing Aaron Rodgers on a short week
Schwartz said he has a lot of respect for Aaron Rodgers, and a lot of experience going against him since 2008 — and twice a year for a portion of that time —, but the DC thinks Rodgers continues to improve.
“I think he’s really taken his game to another level this year. He’s incredibly efficient. He was always good at making big plays and doing those kinds of things, but he’s just so efficient. He doesn’t miss a check down. He runs a boot and he’s taking the positive yards. He still scrambles. He still makes those plays, but I think you’re seeing it in his overall play. He still makes his big plays down the field, but I think he’s taken his game to another level this year.”
Game planning for the Packers, he noted, is similar to what they had to do with Seattle — you have to look at what matchups you can live with because there’s so many parts of the offense to try and stop.
Schwartz also talked about Matt LaFleur’s system and Rodgers having more time in it compared to last years game. He noted that the QB has embraced it, is incredibly efficient, and has also kept his big-play mentality and are running the ball really well. He noted again that the Packers have expanded their boot game, and Rodgers makes them defend the width and length of the field.
“He has great command over their offense, they’re hardly ever in bad plays. He seems like he always makes the right decision. He’s willing to check the ball down. He can still scramble, he can still make those big plays, but they’re a lot less one dimensional than at times they have been in the past.
At times their run game wasn’t a big part of what they did, or short passes weren’t a big part of what they did. I think that they have really done an outstanding job of having an offense and it’s not about one person, I’ve said that before, not about one person in an offense, it’s the efficiency of the whole offense.
I think that that’s probably the complement that I would see. It’s going to be a great matchup. We’re going to work really hard to stop them, they’re going to work really hard to score against us, and it will be a fun game to be in.”
- Schwartz talked about Derek Barnett and noted that he’s hit his stride and plays tough play-in and play-out. The DC did point out that they look at production from the defensive line as a group, not individual, and a play for Barnett means that someone else was probably doing their job, too.
“But Derek has done an outstanding job, and I think probably the biggest thing is the effort and the toughness that he plays with on a play-in and play-out basis. It’s inspiring for me to watch.”
- The DC said that they appreciate what Will Parks did for the team. The safety had a bad start to the season with his hamstring injury, but once he got healthy, he play a limited role but did a good job. Schwartz also agreed that without Parks, there are more opportunities for young guys like K’Von Wallace and Marcus Epps — and even guys like Grayland Arnold and Elijah Riley.