Jim Schwartz might not be ready for a career as a boxing promoter. Because there’s a heavyweight bout going down in Minnesota this weekend.
And he probably could have sold it just a tad better.
“We're a pretty strong run defense; they're a pretty strong run offense,” Schwartz said. “It's going to be a great matchup on Sunday.”
Pretty strong run defense? Pretty strong run offense?
These are two elite groups in those respective categories. And it should definitely be a great matchup between the best run defense in the NFL and the league’s third-best rushing offense when the Eagles face the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.
The Vikings have revamped their offense from the last matchup between these two teams in 2018. They fired former offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and promoted Kevin Stefanski. Then they brought in Gary Kubiak, Rick Dennison, Brian Pariani and their zone blocking scheme. Those moves have certainly paid off early in the season. Head coach Mike Zimmer wanted an offense that could run the football and he got it.
Through five games, the Vikings are averaging 166.4 yards per game on the ground. They’ve gone over 172 yards in four games, but had just 40 on the ground against a very good Bears defense. Dalvin Cook is leading the way with 542 yards on 92 carries with five touchdowns; he’s the second-leading rusher in the NFL.
It looks like they've clicked the speed of the film up a little bit,” Schwartz said. “They're making big plays everywhere.
The Vikings’ run game has been an unstoppable force. But it’s about to meet an immovable object.
Check out just how good the Eagles’ run defense has been:
• The Eagles have given up an average of 63.0 yards per game on the ground this season. That makes them the best run defense in the NFL.
• Through five games, the Eagles have given up just 315 rushing yards. That’s the fewest in the first five games of a season for any NFL team since the Eagles did it in 2017. The last non-Eagles team to give up that few yards through the first five games was the Dolphins in 2012.
• Dating back to last season, Schwartz’s unit has now held eight straight opponents to under 100 rushing yards. That’s the franchise’s longest streak since 1991-92.
• Since Schwartz took over as DC in 2016, the Eagles have given up the fewest rushing yards in the league: 4,785 in 53 games (90.3 average). The next closest team has given up over 200 more yards.
• And since the start of the 2017 season, the Eagles have been even better, giving up an average of 84.8 rushing yards per game.
Sure, the Eagles’ cornerback situation has been tough this season with injuries, so maybe the Vikings come out and try to throw against them on Sunday. But that’s just not what they do. The Vikings are going to try to run and the Eagles are hard to run against.
So what makes the Eagles so good in this area?
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer credited an aggressive front and players like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Malcolm Jenkins.
The Eagles’ DC offered a different answer.
“Just good coaching all around,” Schwartz joked. “Our guys, we put an emphasis on it.”
There goes Schwartz, underselling again.
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