Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz met with reporters on Tuesday for his weekly press conference.
Here are my three big takeaways:
Praise him like you should
Avonte Maddox returned to the Eagles’ lineup on Sunday in LA after missing the previous three games and the Eagles started him at his third different position this season. That’s pretty incredible.
After the game, Fletcher Cox praised Maddox after the game, saying the rookie is small but has the heart of a giant. On Tuesday, it was Schwartz’s turn to praise the talented and versatile rookie defensive back.
“I don't know if we win that game without Avonte, though,” Schwartz said. “Not just making the interception but played really good in the pass game. That tackle he made in the two-minute drive at the end, that's a big-time play — the plays that you'll see from him, if you're watching highlights of the game or the last play of the game, his interception, but that tackle had every bit as much to do with us winning that game and it's really encouraging to see.”
When asked what Maddox’s best position is, Schwartz joked linebacker and then joked that Maddox could probably use his natural leverage to rush the passer.
Schwartz is absolutely right to praise Maddox and I’m not sure where his best position is either. His body type (5-foot-9) makes me think he’s a nickel corner, but he’s already shown me he can play outside and at safety. The good news for the Eagles is that next year they can figure out where to play everyone else, then plug him in.
The Eagles have faced plenty of good receivers this season, but there’s an argument to be made that DeAndre Hopkins might be the best receiver in the league. He has 94 catches for 1,321 yards and 11 touchdowns, but the most impressive thing about Nuk is his penchant for spectacular catches. Schwartz said the biggest thing that stands out about Hopkins is that ability to come down with contested catches.
“He has some rebounder-type skills in him,” Schwartz said. “Charles Barkley would lead the NBA in rebounds when he’s 6-3. Those guys that just have a knack for high point and a knack for knowing — but I think that sort of stands out the most.”
I used to cover the Texans when Hopkins was just entering the league and he has the best hands of any player I have ever covered. The dude just catches everything. It’s like his hands are made out of Velcro.
So what’s the coaching point against a guy like that?
“Be strong on defense,” Schwartz said, kind of shrugging. “It's like when I used to have Calvin Johnson, what do you tell the guy, get taller? Hey, jump higher.”
More from the blitz
The Eagles blitzed a little more on Sunday than they have in recent weeks. But I do like that Schwartz is able to joke about how infrequently he uses the blitz.
“We blitz more than a couple of those games where we blitzed zero or one — I don't think seven really makes the radar as far as blitzing a lot.”
He mentioned that the front four did a good job of getting to the passer on Sunday, which allowed them to be selective with the blitz. He said it helped them blitz “on our terms” and not out of necessity. That’s a good way to look at it.
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