Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Schwartz thinks defense is better ... on paper

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Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Schwartz thinks defense is better ... on paper

The Eagles' defense did some good things last year, but the unit also struggled to find consistency.

On Tuesday, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was asked if he feels any extra pressure heading into the 2017 season after elevating the Eagles' to a top-15 unit in his first with the team. Schwartz's answer was pretty much what you'd expect, but it was good.

"There's always pressure," he said. "That goes along with this job. If you don't accept pressure, you're in the wrong business. Please don't put on my resume that I elevated this to a top 15 [defense]. I don't know that that — that's participation trophy in my mind.

"And I don't want to split hairs or whatever. The stat that we care about the most is points allowed. I think we were 12th in there. That's still not as good as we can be. And I do agree with you: On paper, we're better. We have added not only depth, but we've added some key components to the defense.

"It's our job as coaches and our job as players to be productive. I mean, this press conference doesn't matter. We can say all the right things. We can have the greatest plans. We have to execute, and the proof is in the pudding. And it's our job to do that over the course of a year.

"We're going to have good games. We're going to have bad games. When the season's over, we have to give our team consistently a chance to win the game. And the best way we can do that is points allowed. There's two things. First, is don't allow very many points, and number two is set the offense up to score."

Schwartz was right about the Eagles' being 12th in points allowed. They gave up 331 last season, an average of 20.7 per game. And he's also right about the turnovers. The Eagles were pretty good in that department. They forced 26 in 2016. That was good for 10th in the league, but the top number was 33 from the Chiefs.

It's not hard to find the key components the Eagles added to the defense this season. It starts with cornerback Ronald Darby, who was added during training camp in a trade with the Bills. He immediately becomes their top option at corner. The team also added Tim Jernigan to replace Bennie Logan, added Chris Long for defensive end depth and then drafted Derek Barnett in the first round. And then there was the addition of Patrick Robinson, the team's nickel corner, and veteran Corey Graham, who is now their third safety.

So on paper, the Eagles' defense should be better. But they don't play on paper.

Pryor interest
There was a funny moment on Wednesday during Terrelle Pryor's conference call with Philly reporters. Washington's new receiver was asked a pretty simple question: Where does his motivation come from?

Pryor didn't give a simple answer. It was a pretty funny moment though.

"My biggest fear in life is ... I don't like spiders," Pryor said. "And I don't like ... I'm scared of sharks but it's my favorite animal. What I'm getting to is another fear of mine is failure.

"You don't want to fail and you don't want to fail your teammates. That drives me. When they come to you for a play and you have to make that play, you don't have success on that play, you're letting your teammates down, you're letting yourself down, I'm letting my son down. I'm letting God giving me this ability to be great and perform down, my coaching staff down. I think that's what motivates me a little deeper and it means something to me."

Spiders, sharks and failure. Got it.

Like Alshon Jeffery, Pryor signed a one-year deal this offseason. He said he had four offers for long-term deals that would last for four or five years and pay him a lot of money. Ultimately, though, he said he decided Washington was the right spot for him, in large part because he wanted to play with quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Pryor said the Eagles did show interest in him during the offseason but then "something happened in house" in Philly. Pryor didn't know exactly what happened or what changed. 

"That's all I heard from my agent," he said. "I'm sure my agent knows a lot more about the details of that. But it doesn't matter now. I'm here."

Snapping the streak?
The Eagles haven't been very good against Washington in recent seasons. In fact, they've lost their last five against the division opponent, including two last year, dating back to 2014.

"I'm not here to talk about losing," Fletcher Cox said earlier this week, when asked about the recent streak. "I'm here to talk about going down, preparing this week to go down there. I'm not here to talk about losing."

The worst loss of the five came in Philly on Dec. 16, 2015. The Eagles lost that one by a score of 38-24. But the other four losses have been pretty close. The Eagles have lost the other four by an average of 4.5 points per game.

The Eagles haven't beaten Washington since September of 2014.

The good news for the Eagles is that Washington hasn't fared very well recently in openers. In the three years with Jay Gruden as head coach, Washington has gone 0-3 in openers and has been outscored 72-32.

Something has to give on Sunday.

Thank Carson Wentz (and 1 other thing) for landing Mike Wallace

Thank Carson Wentz (and 1 other thing) for landing Mike Wallace

During the 2016 season, Mike Wallace thought his Baltimore Ravens were going to steamroll the Eagles, who had a first-year head coach and first-year quarterback. 

He was wrong. 

Sure, the Ravens were able to sneak away with a 27-26 win back on Dec. 18, 2016, but Wallace watched up close as the gutsy Carson Wentz had the Eagles one two-point conversion at the end of the game away from walking out of Baltimore with a win. 

A year and a half later, when Wallace was testing free agency, the veteran receiver thought back to that game and thought to himself, “I want to play with that guy.” 

So how responsible is Wentz for Wallace’s landing in Philly? 

“Ninety-nine percent. Ninety-nine,” Wallace said at his introductory press conference on Friday afternoon after signing a one-year contract. “The other percent was the rest of the team. I’m impressed by the way he plays football, the way he moves in the pocket, the way he throws the football and his competitiveness. You can see it.”

Wallace, 31, continued to watch Wentz during the 2017 season, when the second-year quarterback was seemingly on his way to an MVP award before a serious knee injury landed him on injured reserve.  

Having been through changing teams before, Wallace said the most difficult part for him is learning the new quarterback. He hopes this process won’t take exceedingly long, but he and Wentz might be at a disadvantage. Wentz is still recovering from a torn ACL and LCL and might not be ready until the season opener, if that. 

“You can just work on that watching film and things like that, but until he gets out there, there’s no real way to simulate it,” Wallace said. “I think he’s a great young quarterback who’s fired up. Whatever extra reps we need to try to get up to speed, I’m all for it.”

Wentz is, of course, a part of the big reason Wallace decided to join the Eagles. Wallace has played nine seasons in the NFL with four different teams. He’s made money, but he hasn’t been able to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. That’s what he wants. 

On Friday, Wallace said he turned down more money to join the Eagles. 

“I had options but I just wanted the best chance,” Wallace said. “I feel like this is my best opportunity to make a run. This is my 10th year. Can’t play this game forever. You don’t want to come out feeling empty. I want to get a ring.”

Wallace had been a free agent twice before this offseason and he admitted, that when he was younger, free agency was about money. He signed a five-year, $60 million deal in 2013 to join the Dolphins. 

But now, Wallace said, his family is secure. He’s made a lot of money in the NFL to make sure those close to him are well off. Now, he’s allowing himself to make a decision that benefits him. 

“I didn’t try to come into this game to leave empty-handed,” he said. “I had to secure the bag and I did that. Now it’s time to secure a ring.”

Warrant issued for Michael Bennett's arrest

Warrant issued for Michael Bennett's arrest

Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett has been indicted for a felony charge in Harris County, Texas, the Harris County district attorney's office announced on Friday afternoon.

Because of the indictment, a warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest. According to the release, prosecutors are working with Bennett's lawyers to coordinate a surrender.

Bennett is being charged with "injury to the elderly, included intentionally and knowingly, causing bodily injury to a person 65 years or older." The penalty for the charge is up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The felony charge is for injuring a 66-year-old paraplegic woman who was working at NRG Stadium last year during Super Bowl LI, when Bennett was there to watch his brother Martellus play in the game. The Patriots played the Falcons in Super Bowl LI in Houston on Feb. 5, 2017.  

Bennett, 32, allegedly "shoved his way on to the field" during the postgame celebration, when the elderly worker told him to use a different way for field access. Instead, the district attorney's office said, Bennett pushed through workers, including the elderly disabled woman.

Neither the Eagles nor the Seahawks knew about the incident, a league source told NBC Sports Philadelphia's Derrick Gunn. Bennett has been an Eagle officially for just over a week.

During a news conference on Friday afternoon, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo asked Bennett to turn himself in as quickly as possible, calling Bennett "morally bankrupt" and entitled. Acevedo said there is no video of the incident, but there is a police officer eye-witness.

Acevedo said Bennett forcibly opened locked doors to get onto the field and then pushed his way past three workers. One was a male, one was a 28-year-old female and one was a 66-year-old female, who sustained a sprained shoulder. The 66-year-old female is a paraplegic and the force of being pushed back in her motorized wheelchair is what injured her. Acevedo said the woman needed medication prescribed to her because of the alleged assault.

According to Acevedo, Bennett said, "Ya'll must know who I am, and I could own this motherf-----. I'm going on the field whether you like it or not," as he pushed past the women.

A police officer, called "Officer Morgan" by Acevedo, the same one who saw the alleged incident, then tried to stop Bennett, but Bennett disregarded him, saying "f--- you." The officer then decided to tend to the woman instead of pursuing the suspect, as he thought Bennett no longer posed a threat.

The extended time between the incident and the indictment was explained by Acevedo as a lack of resources. He said the department decided to handle cases that put citizens in danger. This was pushed to the back burner. He also said it was exceedingly difficult to get in touch with Bennett.

"Mr. Bennett may think because he's an NFL player and because some time passed he may have thought rules don't apply to him," Acevedo said. "No. 2 he doesn't have to respect the dignity of a paraplegic woman trying to earn a living. He may believe he doesn't have to answer to a police officer trying to detain him, but I'm here to say I'm very proud of the fact our department took this case as seriously as we should have."

The Eagles released the following statement on Friday afternoon:

"We are aware of the situation involving Michael Bennett and are in the process of gathering more information. Because this is an ongoing legal matter, we will have no further comment at this time."

The Eagles officially traded for Bennett on March 14. They sent receiver Marcus Johnson and a fifth-round pick to Seattle for Bennett and a seventh-rounder.