Eagles

Eagles' D better fix issue because 'Rams can hang 40 and 50 on people'

Eagles' D better fix issue because 'Rams can hang 40 and 50 on people'

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."

Eagles-Saints NFL Week 11 predictions

Eagles-Saints NFL Week 11 predictions

The Eagles (4-5) are coming off a tough loss to the rival Cowboys on Sunday Night Football and now they have to travel to New Orleans to face the Saints (8-1). 

The Eagles opened as nine-point underdogs. It was the first time they opened as underdogs all season. 

To the predictions: 

Reuben Frank (5-4) 
Maybe I’m crazy. This one looks so lopsided, looks unwinnable, looks like a completely lost cause. Heck, I can’t even figure out how the Eagles are going to keep things close Sunday against the Saints. But the NFL is weird. It seems like so often when everybody in the universe is convinced a game is going to go one way, it goes the other way. I’m banking on there being enough pride left in a team that just nine months ago won a Super Bowl to stand toe to toe with the 8-1 Saints and get out of the Superdome with a win. I don’t know how. 

The Saints don’t have a great defense. They don’t need a great defense, but maybe the Eagles’ offense suddenly solves its red-zone issues. Maybe Doug Pederson magically recalls his 2017 play-calling touch. Maybe the defense makes up for the last two months and forces a few turnovers. Maybe a few balls bounce funny and right into somebody’s hands. Maybe the Eagles simply outscore the Saints, who are allowing nearly 27 points per game. I know one thing. As long as No. 11 is out there, the Eagles have a chance. This team rarely gets blown out, and I don’t think it will Sunday. It’s just a matter of whether the offense can get untracked. I say yes. I say Eagles over Saints. No, really.

Eagles 43, Saints 37 

Dave Zangaro (2-7)
Drew Brees has been playing so well and the Saints seem pretty much unstoppable. They’re averaging over 36 points per game and I don’t know how the Eagles are going to stop them or keep up. The Eagles are without Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills and Rodney McLeod. Having Sidney Jones back will help, but it won’t solve the problem. 

If the Eagles were to somehow pull off a win, they would need to play an almost perfect game. Carson Wentz will need to guide them to the best offensive performance we’ve seen from the Eagles all year. I’m not saying there’s no chance the Eagles win; I just don’t see it happening. 

Saints 35, Eagles 27

Derrick Gunn (3-6) 
It's bad enough the Eagles gave one away to Dallas, but now they hit the road to face the hottest team in the league. Brees is playing out of his mind right now with a 77.3 completion percentage, 21 touchdowns, one interception, and has been sacked just nine times. Nobody sees the field better than he does.

The Eagles’ banged-up secondary has to find a way to control Saints WR Michael Thomas, and the front seven’s task is to keep the backfield duo of Alvin Kamara (4.4 ypc) and Mark Ingram (4.5 ypc) from running over it the way Ezekiel Elliott did. Also, the Eagles’ D could use a few turnovers to go its way; it has forced only seven this season, and the Saints don’t give the ball away often.

Pederson said his offense is not that far off numbers-wise from where it was a season ago. That may be true but having scored more than 24 points in a game only once this year is unsettling. Wentz must find a way to get this offense moving, and fast. The Birds’ offense is 17th in red-zone efficiency (55.9 percent) and converts on 41.2 percent of third-down situations. 

I’ve looked at this matchup from every possible angle trying to find a ray of hope for the Eagles, but because of their injuries, inconsistencies and the team they’re playing, it doesn’t look good. 

Saints 37, Eagles 21

Ray Didinger (4-5) 
Crazy things happen in the NFL. Let me take you back to December 2015. The Eagles were coming off a humiliating 45-14 loss in Detroit. Jeff Lurie was about to pull the plug on Chip Kelly. The franchise was in ruins. So what happens? The Eagles go to Foxboro and knock off the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots, 35-28. Who saw that coming?

So is it possible the Eagles could go to New Orleans on Sunday and cool off the 8-1 Saints? Look, if Sam Bradford can beat Tom Brady, it is certainly possible Wentz can beat Brees. The Saints lost at home to Tampa Bay and Ryan Fitzpatrick earlier this season, so it's not like it can't happen. Of course the Bucs had to score 48 points to do it, so good luck with that, Pederson.

The Eagles are underdogs — nine points this time — and they seem to like that role but the matchup of a red-hot Brees and the Eagles' patchwork secondary is downright scary. Yeah, any given Sunday and all that jazz, but I'm not feeling it this week.

Saints 35, Eagles 24  

Andrew Kulp (4-5) 
I don't think it's a question of whether the Eagles are going to lose, but by how much. With all the injuries, they appear to be completely outclassed by the Saints, who look like the best team — or at least the hottest team — in the NFL right now.

Brees should absolutely dissect this secondary, and while the Eagles could score some points, they haven't demonstrated the ability to do so with any consistency. This could get ugly.

Saints 34, Eagles 20

Corey Seidman (3-6) 
The NFL is a week-to-week league. Losing to a mediocre team one week does not mean you're going to get blown out by a good team the next.

I think the Eagles' offense wakes up in a big way in this game and it ultimately falls just short against a Saints offense that can do whatever it wants.

This is the best Saints offense we've seen Brees engineer. Kamara runs precise routes and catches everything. Thomas runs even more precise routes and catches everything. Taysom Hill makes the Saints borderline unstoppable on a 3rd-and-3 or shorter.

Saints 36, Eagles 33

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Eagles will wait 1 more week to get Tim Jernigan back

Eagles will wait 1 more week to get Tim Jernigan back

The Eagles won’t have Tim Jernigan for this weekend’s game in New Orleans. 

Even though Jernigan has been practicing for two weeks and has been rotating in with the starters, the Eagles are going to give him another week to get ready. If Jernigan was going to play this weekend, he needed to be activated by 4 p.m. Saturday. That deadline has passed. 

During the past week, head coach Doug Pederson said twice (most recently on Friday) that he was optimistic Jernigan would be able to play against the Saints. 

The lack of a move with Jernigan was signaled early on Saturday, when the Eagles put Ronald Darby on IR and brought up De’Vante Bausby. And on Friday, they activated Richard Rodgers to the 53-man roster. 

Because Jernigan is still on the non-football injury list after offseason back surgery, the Eagles weren’t required to put him on their injury report this week and didn’t need to give an official game status for him. 

Jernigan was cleared to return to practice on Nov. 5, which started a 21-day practice window. By the end of that window, the Eagles must decide to either activate Jernigan to the 53-man roster or shut him down for the year. That window will end next Saturday, so the Eagles will likely have him for next week's game. 

The fact that he was even close to returning this week makes it seem like he will return this year. That will be a boost for the Eagles, but it might also be too little too late. 

The Eagles have really missed Jernigan this season and they’ll probably miss him again this weekend. Haloti Ngata (knee) enters the weekend listed as questionable. If he can’t play, they’re down to either Treyvon Hester or T.Y. McGill next to Fletcher Cox. In fact, that spot next to Cox has probably been one of the weakest starting positions on the depth chart this year. 

For a long time, there were serious questions about whether or not Jernigan would be able to return at all this season. His injury still has plenty of mystery surrounding it. It seems like he’s getting close, though. Maybe next week.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles