Schwartz feel­ing heat over D’s per­for­mance

Schwartz feel­ing heat over de­fense’s per­for­mance

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Bob Grotz bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @BobGrotz on Twit­ter

This just in: Doug Ped­er­son leaves the de­fen­sive scheme and play-call­ing to­tally up to Ea­gles oor­di­na­tor Jim Schwartz.

That less than break­ing news was un­cov­ered Thurs­day by the sup­pos­edly tough Philly press corps. You knew that, of course. Ped­er­son men­tioned it enough times in pass­ing that only a critic with an agenda to as­sign blame would roll it out there at a news con­fer­ence and link it to ac­count­abil­ity to ex­plain the shel­lack­ing the Ea­gles have taken the last two weeks in losses to Seat­tle and Green Bay.

Sud­denly an Ea­gles team that can­not put points on the board is in a death spi­ral be­cause Schwartz was given free will to coach the de­fense and, get this, doesn’t ad­dress the me­dia im­me­di­ately af­ter the game. That’s the rea­son the Ea­gles, now 5-6, have lost six of their last eight games?

As for the ac­count­abil­ity is­sue, Schwartz was made to an­swer for why he didn’t an­swer on game days.

“I mean, we could move it up ear­lier in the week,” he said of his weekly press brief­ing, “but I’m go­ing to do what’s re­quired. I don’t want to take away from Coach Ped­er­son on game day. I’ve been a

a head coach be­fore and I un­der­stand the way that goes. There needs to be one voice. I think that’s im­por­tant. I’m cer­tainly not, I mean, you don’t know me well enough to think that I’m not get­ting away from ac­count­abil­ity.

“There is ab­so­lutely no ques­tion about that. We are all ac­count­able. I take in­cred­i­ble pride in what we do de­fen­sively and I take ultimate re­spon­si­bil­ity for what we do on de­fense. I’m the de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.”

For the most part, in the search to un­cover the real rea­son the Ea­gles keep mak­ing the same mis­takes and get­ting the same re­sults, some in­quir­ing minds have missed the ob­vi­ous.

The Ea­gles won four of their first six games with their of­fense con­trol­ling the foot­ball, get­ting leads and not turn­ing the ball over. That en­abled the de­fense to rush the passer and cre­ate turnovers. Those phases helped the spe­cial teams pro­vide stel­lar field po­si­tion.

The Ea­gles haven’t done any of that con­sis­tently in their sub­se­quent 1-4 slide. Schwartz took a lit­tle shot at the me­dia and, in turn, the un­der­per­form­ing of­fense and spe­cial teams, with a re­minder Thurs­day.

“We talked a long time ear­lier this sea­son about long drives and how our of­fense was con­trol­ling the ball and our de­fense was get­ting off the field,” Schwartz said. “And it was a great for­mula.”

The Ea­gles are a work in progress, par­tic­u­larly the sec­ondary. It doesn’t mat­ter how skilled the front seven is or how much money Fletcher Cox makes. If you can’t cover re­ceivers, you’re not go­ing to beat Rus­sell Wil­son or Aaron Rodgers, who have stamped the Ea­gles with a twogame los­ing streak.

When you play elite mo­bile quar­ter­backs, you can’t blame the de­fen­sive is­sues all on the lack of pass rush, be­cause if you can’t cover, you can’t give your pass rush time to get to the passer.

“The last cou­ple weeks we faced of­fenses that had quick throws in their of­fense but also had quar­ter­backs that could ex­tend plays,” Schwartz said. “And you know, even if you won in pass rush, win­ning in pass rush didn’t mean you were go­ing to sack the quar­ter­back. Be­cause not only would you have to de­feat a blocker but you had to be able to get the quar­ter­back on the ground and some­times th­ese quar­ter­backs were go­ing straight back­wards, buy­ing time.”

Take the Mon­day night loss to the Green Bay Pack­ers. The Ea­gles played tight man-to-man cov­er­age on the re­ceivers, tak­ing them on at the line for much of the first se­ries.

That didn’t help the pass rush, be­cause the cov­er­age peo­ple, their backs turned, opened up rush­ing lanes for Rodgers, who scram­bled for 16 and nine yards on the 10play, 75-yard touch­down drive.

In essence, Rodgers took the Ea­gles out of press for a chunk of the game with those runs. With the Birds back­ing off, he started mak­ing his patented throws and do­ing his thing, in­clud­ing the hard count, pre­vent­ing the Ea­gles from get­ting fresh bod­ies on the field.

Ea­gles safety Mal­colm Jenkins in­sisted it made no sense to con­tinue the press cov­er­age be­cause the de­fen­sive backs, not Rodgers, would have been more fa­tigued and worn down as the night went on.

All of that said, the Ea­gles were within 17-13 en­ter­ing the fourth quar­ter. The de­fense was winded try­ing to keep the Pack­ers from hit­ting the big play. The Pack­ers con­verted 10 of 14 third downs (71.4 per­cent).

“They’re a good team,” Jenkins said. “They lost four straight but in those four their of­fense was still play­ing re­ally good and their de­fense just hap­pened to be giv­ing up a lot of points. Their de­fense showed up. Their of­fense showed up like they nor­mally do. It’s a good Packer team.”

Schwartz in­di­cated the de­fen­sive so­lu­tions were big­ger than the knee­jerk re­sponse of start­ing rookie Jalen Mills, who had a rough game, over vet­eran Leodis McKelvin, who had a bad game.

Then there’s Cox, who ex­tended the de­ci­sive scor­ing with a rough­ing the passer penalty when it ap­peared the Ea­gles would get off the field on third down. And Bran­don Gra­ham’s neu­tral zone in­frac­tion ex­tended a field goal drive.

While the Pack­ers got some bounces, Jordy Nel­son bat­ting a ball to him­self, for ex­am­ple, the Ea­gles failed to get a sack or a turnover in a game for the first time since 2012. That’s not the co­or­di­na­tor.

“We have to do some­thing to help our team win,” Schwartz said. “We didn’t do any­thing to help our team win. You could prob­a­bly make a case in our other losses that we did some­thing to try to put us in po­si­tion to win.”

MATT ROURKE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Fletcher Cox re­acts af­ter a tackle against the Cleve­land Browns on Sept. 11. The Ea­gles have only six sacks in the past five games af­ter record­ing 20 in the first six. De­fen­sive tackle Cox has four sacks and none in the past seven games.

MATT ROURKE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Green Bay Pack­ers re­ceiver Trevor Davis dives into the end zone past Ea­gles cor­ner­back Nolan Car­roll on Mon­day.

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