Five nuggets from Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s chat with the media Monday …
Fighting Super Bowl hangover
Jim said he likes what he’s seen from his group in terms of maintaining the same work ethic it had during the Super Bowl season.
Every championship team talks about staying hungry. From what I’ve seen of the Eagles this preseason, they’ve done it.
“I think the biggest thing that comes if you haven't experienced it before, in my career I had only been to the Super Bowl one other time, is how short the offseason is," Schwartz said. "It comes up on you pretty quickly. You have to get guys transitioned to a different mindset right away. I like our group that way.
“Our group has stayed hungry. They’ve stayed focused. It's a difficult thing to do with all the attention not just from fans around, but media attention and everything else. I'm sure you guys have seen the T-shirts of embracing the target. Last year we were the underdogs. We were the people that people didn't think could make their way through with the injuries we had and the other things. This year we're going to have the target on us. That takes a little bit of different mindset.”
Dealing with Bradham's suspension
Schwartz said no one player will be asked to replace linebacker Nigel Bradham, who is serving a one-game NFL suspension this week for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
"We'll try to compartmentalize some guys." Schwartz said. "Our numbers are down just a little bit. We have a new guy coming in (D.J. Alexander), so we'll have guys covering up a lot of different roles up there. Whole goal is not to have any drop off in production. We have confidence in those guys.
“There were games last year that we had to do that, also. Jordan (Hicks) missed most of, well just about all of, the Washington game. Carolina, we lost some guys and guys stepped in and got wins for us and we expect the same in this game.”
Moving on without Means
Howie Roseman said Saturday cutting Steven Means was one of the hardest decisions he’s had to make as Eagles general manager.
Means was a talented defensive end, a natural leader and a real favorite of his teammates in the locker room.
But the Eagles just didn’t have roster space for him, and Schwartz talked about that Sunday.
"We're fortunate that we're so deep at that position, that we had a hard time finding a spot for him," he said. "Everybody thinks the world of Steven. I don't know what you guys feel, but in our locker room, in our building, he is as respected as any player that I've been around. He'll have great success. He'll land on his feet and he'll have success. I just hope it's not against us.”
Continuing to grow in Year 3
The Eagles ranked fourth in the NFL in both yards and points allowed last year, their best ranking since 2008 and matching their best since 2004.
Schwartz, now in his third year as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, spoke Sunday about his expectations for this year’s defense.
“The biggest thing is just continue to win games," he said. "That's all we judge ourselves on. If we win games, we're happy. If we don't, we're not. Our job is to keep the score down. So points allowed are always going to be part of that job that help us win games and then the things that affect points allowed: Third-down stops, takeaways, red zone. Those all contribute to getting off the field and keeping the score down.
“Then the other part of it that we did last year and again, you can't count on things carrying over, we had a big-play component to us. We were able to score the football or put the offense in really good field position so that they could score. That was a consistent theme.
"Those are all fundamental things that we do and that we ask the defense to do. If we are playing good defense, then we'll hit all those targets.”
The challenge of replacing Patrick Robinson
Schwartz said it won’t be just second-year pro Sidney Jones manning the slot Thursday night against the Falcons.
Rookie Avonte Maddox worked in the slot a lot during the preseason, and safeties Corey Graham and Malcolm Jenkins also have slot ability.
“We'll have that job covered by multiple players," Schwartz said. "That's not going to be just one person goes in and puts a slot hat on and he's out there all the time. …
“Again, just like the linebackers, I don't want to announce anybody that's going out. I think that game plans and personnel things are things that are better left unsaid. Particularly at this time of the year leaves a little bit of uncertainty, but we do have multiple ways that we are going to cover it.”