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Schwartz Explains Defensive Struggles

Posted Dec 6, 2016

Jim Schwartz put the Eagles' defensive picture in perspective on Tuesday, saying that side of the line of scrimmage is in a "slump" that has lasted for three weeks ...

Jim Schwartz put the Eagles' defensive picture in perspective on Tuesday, saying that side of the line of scrimmage is in a "slump" that has lasted for three weeks.

"You know, for nine weeks you probably could not mention best defenses in the NFL without mentioning the Eagles," Schwartz said. "The last three, you probably can't mention worst defenses in the NFL without mentioning the Eagles. Hey, facts of life, man. That's what it is. Same scheme, same players. I mean, other than (injured CB) Ron Brooks, pretty much the same bunch. We're in a slump. You know? We have to own that. We're in a three-game slump. We had good games and bad games in that nine (game) stretch early. Some games we played better than others, but these last three, we've been in a slump, you know, for a lot of different reasons.

"The last two games, third down has been a significant part of that. This last game penalties had a significant portion of that. And sort of to go back to the effort question, those penalties we had, they weren't from lack of attention, they weren't from lack of composure. They were aggressive penalties."

Things don't get any easier for the Eagles on Sunday when Washington's balanced offense comes to town. The Redskins steamrolled the Eagles early in the season for 230 rushing yards and quarterback Kirk Cousins, hardly touched the entire game, threw two touchdown passes as Washington gained 493 total net yards of offense.

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It's not about effort, says Schwartz. It's not about passion or focus or discipline, necessarily. It's about executing the scheme and the looks Schwartz throws at opposing quarterbacks, and he changed it up as much as he could in Sunday's dreary loss in Cincinnati.

"We blitzed an awful lot in this game," Schwartz said. "I think I called 19 blitzes, (we ran) 17, a couple of them we audibled out of since he was going to try to make it hard to blitz, and a couple of those looks you might get sued for malpractice if you tried to blitz a couple of those looks. During max protection they want you to blitz and keep you light in coverage," Schwartz said. "Facts were in this game, we got beat in blitz, we got beat in zone, we got beat in Cover Two, we got beat in two man, we got beat in six. We rolled through every one. We got beat in all of them. Facts of life, our corners aren't playing very well right now. It doesn't mean I've lost confidence in them because that's the same bunch of corners that shut down some of the best offenses in the NFL. But we're in a slump, and it didn't matter what we were calling.

"A couple weeks ago when I was up here, we were talking about Minnesota and I said, ‘It didn't matter what I was calling, they were all working.’ In this game, it didn't matter what we were calling, it wasn't working. I think I watch enough baseball. Baseball players deal with slumps all the time. The only thing you can do in a slump is go back to basics, go back to technique. If you're a corner it's all about technique, one of those two things. It's about technique and it's about confidence. We're not playing with a lot of confidence at corner, and we need to tighten up our technique."

The absence of the energetic nickle back Brooks, lost for the season with a quadriceps injury during the win against Minnesota, hasn't helped. Schwartz now has to bring safety Malcolm Jenkins into the slot to play as the nickel corner and use Jaylen Watkins at safety alongside Rodney McLeod. The Eagles haven't gotten the pressure up front that they had earlier in the season. The takeaways haven't been as consistent.

It's been a struggle.

A slump.

Time to get back on the bicycle and win on Sunday.

"You're always trying to positively reinforce. I think it probably falls a little bit like coverage. You can't go too much into that. Sometimes it takes some fire and brimstone. Sometimes you can't shy away from some of the plays that you put on film," Schwartz said. "But sometimes coaches, you know, when things aren't going well, you need to find a way to bring guys up, and when things are going well, you need to find a way to bring them back to reality a little bit.

"And I think in this case, it has a lot to do with confidence, and we need to get back to that, and they need to know that first nine weeks, they were respected as -- for what they put on tape, and the last three, we've been in a slump, and we need to get back to those first nine. But we do that a lot."

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