In today's edition of Five Things, take a look at the five biggest takeaways from Eagles coordinators Jim Schwartz and Frank Reich, both of whom spoke at the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday ...
Tulloch Adds To Schwartz's Swarming D
Tuesday afternoon's signing of linebacker Stephen Tulloch etched another former Jim Schwartz's disciple into the Eagles' havoc-spurring defense. The Eagles sought after depth at the linebacker position as an ACL tear to Joe Walker thinned the position group. With Tulloch's addition, the defense inherits a knowledgeable and physical player who's vastly familiar with the defensive scheme.
"He's a very experience player. He's played at a high level of production. Plays with a lot of spirit," Schwartz said. "He's heavy in the run game. He's got natural leverage He's really powerful. He understands blocking schemes and he has good understanding of pass game. He's got experience in the defense. I don't know if that means a whole lot but he's a good player and that stands on its own. He's done it in different schemes."
Schwartz spent six years with Tulloch, three years as his defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans in 2006-2008, and three as Tulloch's head coach Detroit Lions from 2011-2013. Schwartz specified to the media that Tulloch's role in his defense has yet to be determined.
"We're a merit-based defense. We don't go in with a whole lot of preconceived notions. He's not here to replace anybody," Schwartz said. "He's here to add to our group and as coaches our job is to find out what guys do the best and what guys bring to the party. We embrace that and try to find a role for all of those guys."
Preseason Success: What To Make Of It?
The Eagles' defense has been terrorizing offenses to start the preseason. After holding Tampa Bay to single digits in the preseason opener, the Birds followed that outing by posting a shutout in Pittsburg. In the two games alone, the defense has coerced eight turnovers (nine if you include special teams). That being said, these are preseason games. Just how much does Schwartz buy into these results?
"You can get a skewed vision of it," Schwartz said when asked about the face value of preseason success. "When I was in Tennessee, our biggest rival was the Colts and every year the Colts would go 0-4 in the preseason and if you said they were going to go down this year you were on the wrong boat."
It's not the wins and losses that Schwartz looks at but rather the fluidity of defensive execution. Against the Steelers, the defense faced a gut-testing* *drive in the second quarter that lasted 16 plays. The defense maintained focus throughout the drive and cornerback Aaron Grymes came up with a lunging interception in the end zone.
"Usually in those 16 plays, somebody breaks down, somebody misses a tackle, somebody blows an assignment, somebody gets frustrated and tries to make a play they shouldn't make and then you end up with a touchdown," Schwartz relented. "What I was proud of the defense in that case was that nobody panicked. They just kept playing. Everybody did their assignment and we ended up with a turnover that came off of it. I think you're looking for those things in the preseason."
Mathews Reunites with Frank Reich
Offensive coordinator Frank Reich and running back Ryan Mathews spent two seasons together in San Diego. During that time, the Chargers netted 18 wins and earned a playoff berth and a Wild Card playoff win in 2013. Reich knows very well the explosiveness and mayhem Mathews poses for other defenses in the backfield, and he believes Mathews' intangibles will be pivotal in igniting the Eagles offense.
"I've always thought Ryan has that unique blend of speed and size, and then a physicality about him," Reich said. "That's his strength. That's how we have to use him. And I think as he has grown in this league and further in his career, he's gotten better in the passing game as well. I think [compared to] early on in his career, now we're not afraid to have him out there on the pass down."
Mathews performed well in Reich's offense during his final season with the Chargers in 2014, averaging 4.5 yards per carry and 7.7 yards per reception (nine catches) before a strained MCL injury ended his season after six games. Reich is eager to see what effect Mathews will have in this year's offense.
"He's got speed, he's got explosiveness, and he's got a physicality, and I think the offensive line really likes that," said Reich, "when you get a back who runs hard, is a physical runner, I think that kind of energizes your whole offense."
Green-Beckham Adjusting To The Process
Dorial Green-Beckham finally added some Eagles' practices under his belt after his surprise appearance in last Thursday's preseason game against the Steelers. The 6-5, 237-pound receiver could give the Eagles a can't-miss target in the pass game if he can find his niche in the offense.
"He's an impressive, physical specimen, obviously," Reich boasted. "It's funny: You stand out there as a coach and they're running routes on air and sometimes as a coach you stand across from the receivers that are running at you. And when he runs at you, his size and speed, it just kind of grabs you. So [I'm] really excited about having him here."
With only a few practices to his name here with the Eagles, the team is taking him through the ropes day by day in order to catch him up to speed with the offense.
"Just like anybody else though, it's a process," Reich said. "It's a process and we keep giving them little chunks at a time to allow him to play fast and use his ability."
Wentz Engrossed In Learning
Carson Wentz still intends to play in the final game of his first preseason on September 1 against the New York Jets, but only time will tell whether or not the North Dakota State product is able to suit up for the preseason finale in front of the Philadelphia fans. However, Wentz is utilizing his time on the sidelines to become more knowledgeable about the offense, referring to the coaches for advice.
"Carson spent a lot of time in the film room; extra time in the film room," said Reich, "And then even out on the practice field just asking a lot of questions, always staying tuned into the script, always watching Sam (Bradford), Chase (Daniel) and McLeod (Bethel-Thompson), getting the reps and then talking things through. Talking things through out on the field, you can get something done."