Three takeaways from Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s chat with the media Tuesday:
The plan at safety
Schwartz admitted what we already knew watching the 26-23 loss in overtime to the Titans: The Eagles are missing Rodney McLeod. Perhaps one of the most interesting nuggets to come out of the press conference is what Schwartz said when asked if Corey Graham’s playing 71 snaps on defense is sustainable:
“That's probably a lot. Short term, you can do a lot of things short term. Long term, it's probably a little bit unrealistic long term, but we'll see how it goes going forward.”
Yeah, 71 snaps for a 33-year-old safety is probably too much. But what are the Eagles’ options? Well, it seems like we’re going to see more Avonte Maddox. The rookie played some centerfielder in the loss and Schwartz made it seem very likely Maddox’s role as a safety will increase.
Schwartz said Maddox shares a lot of traits with McLeod and thought the skills Maddox has learned at slot corner translate to playing safety. That checks out.
It is kind of telling that Maddox gets safety snaps over guys like Rasul Douglas and Deiondre’ Hall. Hall is actually a safety, but hasn’t been here long and is probably just a special teams player. And Douglas, Schwartz revealed, has cross-trained a little bit at safety, but they view him strictly as an outside corner. That seems a little strange based on the fact that Douglas played safety at West Virginia.
Anyway, expect more Maddox as the season goes on.
Collapsing in overtime
You weren’t happy the Eagles collapsed in overtime and neither was Schwartz. He called those fourth-down conversions in OT “incredibly disappointing.”
Schwartz said on 4th-and-shorter, the Eagles aren’t going to win every play. That’s fair.
But damned if we shouldn't expect to win every 4th-and-15. And that was probably the biggest disappointment. You're going to have some that you give up. I mean, it's just life in the big city. But 4th-and-15, that's the one that's the most disappointing. And that cost us the game. We probably had about six plays that if we made any of those plays we win the game. And obviously we didn't make the plays to win the game.
The one refrain Schwartz kept using Tuesday was that each player was playing like a 2-2 player and the team was playing like a 2-2 team. Yup. He’s right to be frustrated about those fourth downs. That shouldn’t happen.
One play here, one play there
Schwartz was asked about the defense on the road vs. at home and said the Eagles can’t go 8-8 because they win all their home games and lose on the road. That’s the pace they’ve set so far.
But this was my favorite thing Schwartz said Tuesday. He shared this with his players:
“You can look at our team and say we're one play, and maybe I can point to a dozen plays from the Titans game, we're one play away from being 3-1. We're also two plays from being 0-4. We need to face that.”
This is important. Because it would be easy for the team to rationalize a loss and think it just got unlucky. But teams are what their record says they are. The Eagles are 2-2 because, so far, they deserve to be 2-2.