Jim Schwartz on Eagles' defense against Dolphins: 'We cost our team that win'

Jim Schwartz on Eagles' defense against Dolphins: 'We cost our team that win'

Jim Schwartz doesn’t do interviews postgame, so Wednesday was the first chance to ask him what the heck happened Sunday.

He answered for 15 1/2 minutes.

“That game is 100 percent on the defense,” Schwartz said. “We always feel if you give us 20 points we should win the game, and we certainly got more than 20. We didn’t do our jobs in that game, and as a result we got a loss.”

The Dolphins — averaging 14.2 points per game on offense — beat the Eagles 37-31, becoming the first team to score touchdowns on five straight drives against the Eagles in at least 50 years, or as far back as available records are available.

It was as embarrassing a display as there’s ever been against a Jim Schwartz defense.

"That gave them life"

Schwartz said the pivotal point Sunday came with the Eagles up 10-0 late in the first quarter when the Dolphins turned a 4th-and-4 inside Eagles territory into a touchdown.

The way we started that game, interception on the first play, then two quick stops and sacking the quarterback and everything else, then all of a sudden they get a wildcat run for (28) yards, and then we get that 4th-down play, and I really think that was such a critical point in that game,” he said. “That just gave them life. The quarterback threw a 50-50 ball up there and they made it, we didn’t, and they scored a touchdown and that gave them life to get back into the game.

That was one of three 4th-down conversions for the Dolphins. Opposing teams are 7-for-11 converting on fourth down against the Eagles this year, the 4th-highest percentage in the league.

"Flipped the script on us"

Ryan Fitzpatrick spent a good chunk of the day Sunday chucking 50-50 balls up to DeVante Parker, who caught seven passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns.

Schwartz said the Eagles have been very good on 50-50 balls this year … until now.

“We were making two out of three of those plays out of the previous five games,” he said. “A 50-50 ball, a guy who’s covered but the quarterback still throws it. And I counted 13 50-50 balls and we only won four of them. The formula that helped us keep scoring down and keep us in games flipped the script on us. … Some of those were man, some were zone, some were blitz, some weren’t. We didn’t make the plays.”

"We cost our team that win"

Schwartz said he tried a lot of different looks and schemes to slow down the Dolphins. Obviously, none of them worked.

We had one series where I just said on the sideline, ‘Look, we’re just going to be in basic defense just to settle down.’ Training camp type stuff. Let’s just get comfortable and go play. I think the quarterback went 6-for-6 and they scored a touchdown on that drive. So whether it was blitzing, whether it was playing zone or whether it was playing sort of bread-and-butter stuff, it wasn’t our day. We’ve got to take ownership for it. We’ve got to take accountability for it. Because we cost our team that win.

Could have been a game changer 

Schwartz was asked why he didn’t try to use third-year pro Rasul Douglas, the Eagles’ tallest corner at 6-foot-2, to match up against the 6-3 Parker. Douglas didn’t play a single snap on defense for the first time in a game he had dressed out for.

“Darby and Mills had made those plays,” Schwartz said. “I think as a coach you have to give those guys a chance to get out of that and be able to make those. We’re confident in our guys to make those plays, and I think we will. … We decided to just go with our strength, which has been our corners defending 1-on-1 on the outside of the field and playing tight coverage and playing penalty-free, and we didn’t get that done in this game.”

"I can't remember the last time"

Penalties killed the Eagles Sunday. They finished with 10 for 91 yards — both season highs. Six for 61 yards were on the defense, four for Miami first downs. Two others for 20 more yards were declined.

“The things that we had hung our hat on the previous month when we played good defense was playing clean football, penalty-free,” Schwartz said. “Coming into that game we were sixth in the NFL in defensive fouls. So, had done a pretty good job there. I can’t remember the last time we were offsides before that game. Hadn’t given teams a lot of free chances. … We gave them second opportunities with fouls — three offsides, two DPIs and two roughing the quarterbacks.”

"It doesn't matter what your record is"

Schwartz said he never saw his guys let up. He said effort wasn’t the issue.

“Our guys battled,” he said. “There are a lot of times in games that you look and you say, well, we let up at that point or the guys lose their spirit or whatever it was. I didn’t see any of that in this game. A lot of times you can tell that by your tackling. There was really only one play in the game where we missed a tackle. The rest of the game I thought our guys were flying around, we were stuffing the run game pretty good, we were hitting the quarterback. We just didn’t make the plays that we needed to.”

"It could be just one play"

Schwartz said there were a bunch of times the Eagles were inches away from making a play that could have stopped the bleeding and restored momentum. But they weren’t able to make any of those plays.

"When you’re playing a game like that, a shootout type game, it could be just one play,” he said. “Derek Barnett on that one 3rd-and-goal (late in the second quarter), he’s an inch away from stripping the ball out of the quarterback’s hand. Darby is an inch away from knocking two balls away and both of them are 4th-down plays, and maybe that game’s completely different.

"Those are the margins that you have. It doesn’t matter what your record is in the NFL, those are the margins you have to play with, and you’ve got to make your fair share of those.. … And after those first three series, we didn’t make enough of them."

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Lane Johnson says one awful Eagles game made him shave his head for good

Lane Johnson says one awful Eagles game made him shave his head for good

Lane Johnson is officially in offseason mode, and he kicked off Pro Bowl week - which he's now officially part of - by showing up on former teammate Chris Long's podcast and shooting the breeze for an hour.

The duo bantered about plenty, from dealing with failure and ego as football players, to Johnson's time as a grave digger. About halfway through, Johnson offered up a seldom-heard explanation for his hairstyle, or lackthereof.

Johnson, of course, famously keeps his hair short (read: nonexistent) on top, and keeps his beard long. He explained to Long that it took some serious self-reflection, and a couple rough games early in his rookie season, to officially start shaving his head:

I was in college, it was my senior year, and my friend goes, 'Bro, are you f***ing losing your hair?' I said, what are you talking about? Then I went to the mirror, and I'd clearly been in denial for some time. I said, 'Bro, this s*** is terrible.' 

So I played with it my senior year, it was bad. I'd comb it over, wear my hats, feather it out in the back, try to look cool. Then I got to the Eagles, and after getting bull-rushed by Dwight Freeney and giving up three sacks to Justin Houston, I just shaved that s*** off. I've been a different man ever since.

The Eagles, you might remember, lost in Week 2 that year to Freeney's Chargers, and then lost in Week 3 to Houston's Chiefs, to fall to 1-3. They went 9-3 the rest of the way, a startling and fun turnaround. I'm not saying it's all thanks to Johnson shaving his head... but maybe?

That's about as good a reason as I can think of to make a hairstyle change. Johnson has been one of the best right tackles in the NFL since he started shaving his head, so maybe he's on to something. He spends very little time focusing on his hair, and plenty of time focusing on his game.

When you go back and look at Johnson with hair, it's... extremely jarring:

Johnson is basically unrecognizable in that video. He looks like a child! Thank goodness for Freeney and Houston shellacking Johnson as a rookie, or he might still be clinging to that brutal hairdo.

Maybe Johnson should've floated this idea to the Eagles' coaching staff years ago. Who knows what a haircut could've done for Nelson Agholor?

You can listen to, and watch, the full conversation between Johnson and Long below:

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Eagles reportedly getting close to hiring Marquand Manuel as DBs coach

Eagles reportedly getting close to hiring Marquand Manuel as DBs coach

The Eagles are reportedly getting close to filling at least one of their four vacant coaching jobs. 

According to ESPN, the Eagles have interviewed former Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel for their defensive backs coach position and “a deal could happen as early as today.” 

The Eagles are looking for a new DBs coach after Cory Undlin, who held the position for five seasons, left to take the defensive coordinator position under Matt Patricia in Detroit. The Eagles’ other vacancies are at offensive coordinator, wide receivers coach and defensive line coach. 

The Eagles have also reportedly interviewed Browns DBs coach DeWayne Walker for the vacant DBs coach position. 

Whoever gets the job is going to have some work ahead of them. The Eagles’ secondary has plenty of questions marks heading into the 2020 season. Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby and Rodney McLeod are all set to be free agents. Malcolm Jenkins wants a new contract. And Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones are former high-round draft picks who couldn’t get on the field in a playoff game. 

Manuel, 40, comes with a relatively impressive resume. He was the Falcons’ defensive coordinator from 2017-18 and before that was their secondary coach from 2015-16. He began his coaching career with the Seahawks as a low-level assistant and was eventually the assistant secondary coach. He also had an eight-year NFL career at safety as a sixth-round pick; Doug Pederson values former players on his coaching staff. 

When Dan Quinn took the Falcons’ head coaching job in 2015, he brought Manuel with him and promoted him to DBs coach. He then promoted him again two years later. So Manuel has been coaching in that Cover 3 scheme for years. The Eagles use many zone concepts. 

Here’s what Quinn said about Manuel before the 2018 season, via Falcons.com: 

From the time I've met him from now, one thing that's cool to see that has stayed consistent is the energy and enthusiasm he has for players. He made the transition from player to coach really seamlessly because he knew the boundaries of coach, but he also stepped across to say, I can push you. That's not easy to do. He's always had mental quickness of a quarterback or someone who gets concepts really quickly. That transferred into this coaching fast. He can communicate concepts and ideas quickly to people on the run, in the moment, that's a really valuable asset as a coach.

During Manuel’s four years in Atlanta, both as DBs coach and defensive coordinator, the Falcons had the 24th-ranked pass defense in the NFL. But in his second season in Atlanta, the Falcons went to the Super Bowl. He was promoted after that season. But after two years as DC, Manuel was fired by the Falcons after the 2018 season and was not in the NFL in 2019 as Quinn took back DC responsibilities. 

This would be an important hire for the Eagles and it sounds like they’re getting close to making it. 

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