The Eagles’ defense wasn’t the big story coming out of the Week 1 loss to Washington, but injuries are already piling up and the group did allow 27 points — despite mostly short field situations by the offense. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz spoke to the media on Tuesday about their plan for the defensive end rotation, as well as what he’s expecting from the Rams in Week 2.
Here’s what the DC had to say:
On the DE rotation
Doug Pederson confirmed on Monday that Vinny Curry (and Craig James) would miss time with, what he called, a “significant” injury. Also, veteran and defensive leader Brandon Graham is in the concussion protocol.
Schwartz said that they will have to see where they are later in the week with some of the players who missed Week 1, but he was happy with the rotation of Josh Sweat and Vinny Curry. He noted that Sweat was, “one of our most improved players,” and the DE was able to come in on third downs and look fresh on Sunday thanks to the rotation.
He later talked about Sweat’s improvement over the years, and Schwartz likens it to the DE being consistent with his repeatable motions. Working on that consistency is something Sweat took to heart and that the coaches have tried to emphasize.
“I think he’s going to be a big contributor this year.”
On the Washington game
Schwartz made no excuses about the breakdown in coverage allowing Washington’s first touchdown. He wouldn’t place blame because it was a defensive error which funnels to him as DC. Overall, though, he noted he was pleased with the communication on Sunday, but that one play was critical and is one they wish they could have back.
He was also happy with their tackling — especially for the first time live tackling this year, even if one player missed, someone else was typically there — which showed up against the run game. Schwartz noted that they did let one run through for a touchdown, but overall, they did a good job on Sunday.
Later on, Schwartz was asked about the defense’s struggle in the redzone — something not typical for the group — and he agreed that it is an area they’ve traditionally had success but that doesn’t mean much in a new year with a new team. It is an area that they want to be strong at and will need to work on keeping teams to field goal attempts in the red zone.
The DC was also asked about Darius Slay’s debut as an Eagle, and he pointed to at least one play he’d like to have back, but overall he did a good job keeping Terry McLaurin covered. McLaurin only had two receptions against Slay in man coverage, and he put a lot of pressure on him. Schwartz noted that out of about 60 plays, they were in man-to-man for about 55, which was unusual for them.
On the Rams
Schwartz said that the Rams made some adjustments after they faced them in 2018, and now the Eagles have to make changes even though what they did two years ago was successful. The two teams didn’t compete in 2019, so it’ll be like a new matchup.
He expects Nickell Robey-Coleman to have little tips on how the receivers like to run certain routes, and things like that, but Schwartz doesn’t think his time practicing against those guys will be a big factor.
Schwartz talked about Jared Goff’s increased mobility, and when he gets the ball in the boot, he’s sprinting now rather than just trying to buy some time for his receivers. Goff has taken a step up in their scheme, and he’s not afraid to scramble and is hard to hit.