COSTA MESA, Calif. — The Eagles' defense prides itself on tackling and avoiding penalties.
Jim Schwartz's unit didn't do either well Sunday in the Eagles' 24-10 loss to the Seahawks.
"We have to get back to playing our style of football," Schwartz said Tuesday afternoon from the team's hotel in Southern California, "because the Rams can hang 40 and 50 on people."
After Sunday's loss, the Eagles flew south and will spend the week at a hotel in Costa Mesa, while practicing at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. On Tuesday, while the offense went to the stadium for its walkthrough, the Eagles' defense used an empty ballroom in the team hotel after working out in an open-air weight room.
It's in a completely foreign environment, but Schwartz's unit needs to get back to what made it dominant before.
“We understand what happened that game," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "We understand what we are as a team. And I know that we have a big challenge this week. And I know that we’re gonna do what we gotta do to bounce back this week.”
On Monday, head coach Doug Pederson didn't deny what a few of his players said after the loss to the Seahawks: that the team didn't have a great week of practice beforehand. That possibly led to some mental mistakes; the Eagles felt like they helped the Seahawks out way too much.
Schwartz said he was overly worried about the week heading into the Chicago game. Maybe his fears there were somewhat unfounded, but the Eagles did make similar mistakes that eventually hurt them against the Seahawks.
Perhaps the Eagles' defense had been a little too loose.
"Every team has a little different personality," Schwartz said. "Some teams play best when they're loose. [For] some teams, it's more of a grind. I think our guys have the ability to play with and have some fun out on the field. But there is also a fine line between doing that and losing focus. Maybe that's something we can improve on."
Whatever the case was during practice, the Eagles need to fix it, especially if it's what led to penalties and missed tackles against the Seahawks.
Of the Eagles' seven penalties for 64 yards against Seattle, four of them gave the Seahawks first downs.
And the Birds also had eight missed tackles, according to ProFootballFocus. Three of them belonged to Jalen Mills, normally a good tackling cornerback. Schwartz also noted they had a few chances to bring down Russell Wilson, and not just when he was scrambling around.
"We missed a couple tackles that we have done a good job of making. We already talked about the penalties," Schwartz said. "That's a couple things that we've been really proud of defensively of being a good tackling team. That didn't show on Sunday night against Seattle."
A few weeks ago, Schwartz commended — as much as he does — his defense's ability to avoid costly penalties. The defense had four penalties Sunday against the Seahawks and all of them gave Seattle first downs. The Eagles were called for three defensive holds — one apiece for Nigel Bradham, Patrick Robinson and Corey Graham — and the pass interference call on Ronald Darby. Maybe it was a ticky-tack call on Darby, but Schwartz said the corner didn't play it as well as he should have. Had he, the flag probably doesn't get thrown.
The Eagles had given up just one first down by penalty in each of their previous five games and had given up just 17 all season coming into Sunday. The only other time they gave up four in one game this season was against Carolina nearly two months ago.
"When you give good offenses second chances, good things don't happen," Schwartz said. "I think that's probably going to be the same thing, well, it's going to be the same every week, but particularly so this week, facing a high-powered offense, a team that can score a lot. When we have a chance to stop them, we have to be able to stop them. We can't be extending drives due to penalties."
The good news for the Eagles is even with all the penalties and the missed tackles and coverage problems, they still gave up just 24 points. They've given up more points than that just once this season.
To put those 24 points into perspective, 12 NFL teams are allowing an average of 24-plus points per game this season. And it constituted a bad performance for the Eagles, who have given up an average of 17.9 (sixth best in the league).
"I think we, to a man, all recognize we played a poor game, and I'll include myself in that, too," Schwartz said. "And we gave up 24 points. Again, please don't misconstrue that, because we don't take any pride in that. But it shows you a little bit about where our guys are, that that's considered a bad performance, you know what I mean?"
Schwartz said they don't have one player on defense that considers that Seattle game one of their best performances. And for a lot of his players, it was one of their worst games.
This week, the Eagles are working to keep perspective. They lost one game — sure, a big one, but still just one game — Sunday. They still have a chance to split this West Coast trip and can still accomplish all their goals. They just have to get back to what led them to nine straight wins.
"We're a really good 10-2 team," Graham said. "That's what we are right now. We can't sit around and pout about it. We have the Rams up next."