Eagles

Tackling new helmet rule a challenge for Jim Schwartz, Eagles

Tackling new helmet rule a challenge for Jim Schwartz, Eagles

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is concerned enough about the NFL's new rule banning tacklers from lowering their head to initiate contact that he held a defensive meeting Monday specifically so his guys could study film of exactly how the league is calling the new rule.

Through two preseason weekends, the Eagles have been cited a league-high five times for personal fouls for lowering the head.

“The instructions we’ve given guys is, try not to lower your head and try to take your head out of it, and I think our guys are trying to do that,” Schwartz said.

“I can confidently say we don’t have any guys that are trying to play outside the bounds. We don’t have any guys that are head hunting, that are being selfish. They’re trying to play within the rules.

“I think you can see Nigel [Bradham’s] play, he’s trying to get his head out. I think even Rodney [McLeod’s] play, he’s trying to get his head across and get it out. The problem is they’re dealing with world-class athletes who are moving targets. A little bit easier said than done. 

“And those fouls have hurt us in those first couple preseason games and we’ve got to get to a point where they don’t hurt us in the regular season.”

Cornerback Sidney Jones was called for a lowering-the-head penalty on Steelers receiver Damoun Patterson in the preseason opener, and tight end Richard Rodgers was also cited in the opener for an illegal hit on Justin Thomas on a punt return.

Last Thursday night, McLeod was called for a hit on running back James White, Bradham was cited for a hit on receiver Julian Edelman and safety Jeremy Reaves was penalized for a hit on running back Mike Gillislee.

“It’s going to be very important work over the next couple weeks, not just learning from our own mistakes but learning from other teams,” Schwartz said.

“There’s some other good feedback. We get clips from the league that show not just penalties that were called but penalties that should have been called. So there is a learning process.”

Eagles veteran defensive end Brandon Graham said it’s going to be tough to eliminate these penalties simply because the game moves so fast, and even if your intention is to use perfect form tackling, it doesn’t always end up that way.

“It’s tough because sometimes the runner’s ducking his head just as much as you’re ducking,” he said. “But they just don’t want to see the crown of your head hitting his crown or hitting his facemask.

“Just really try to keep your eyes up. You’re going to get ran over sometimes. Hey, you’re going to get ran over. But some people do like to use the crown of their head and it’s just to protect them because you don’t want to be paralyzed from hitting someone the wrong way. 

"So I try to keep my face up and hit with my facemask and this will force people to start doing stuff like that.”

One challenge Schwartz noted is getting his guys to play hard, fast and aggressive without thinking about how they’re tackling.

“You want to play fast,” he said. “You want to play confidently on the field. But any time there’s something new, there is going to be an adjustment. 

“It’s a difficult thing. We're trying our best to work through it, but it does add a layer of difficulty to what we're trying to do.”

According to penalty stats on NFLgsis, an official league statistical web site, there have been 48 lowering-the-head penalties called in 32 preseason games or 1½ per game.

Eight of the 32 teams haven’t been cited at all. The Eagles and Titans have been called a league-high five times each.

“It’s real sensitive right now, but as professionals, we’re going to adjust,” Graham said.

“They want to make it an emphasis in preseason, and I’m happy it didn’t cost us a real game. We’ve just got to continue to keep our head out of things and I think we’ll make that adjustment."

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DeSean Jackson says white teammates ‘stepped up’ with public statements

DeSean Jackson says white teammates ‘stepped up’ with public statements

Carson Wentz, Zach Ertz and Jason Kelce are among the group of Eagles who have released statements in the wake of George Floyd’s killing and subsequent protests around the country, using their platform to speak out against institutional racism and racial injustice. 

Speaking to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark on Tuesday, DeSean Jackson made it clear that he’s proud of his high-profile white teammates. 

They stepped up. They made their voice be heard,” Jackson said. “They used their platform, they used their resources, they used everything they could do to reach out and say I might not know what it feels like to be racially profiled, I might not know what it’s like to grow up in the inner communities and these areas that you guys face on a daily basis, where we’re scrutinized for the color of our skin. 

“They might not understand that, but they are stepping up to the plate and saying fair is fair and right is right and wrong is wrong. The stuff that we’ve been seeing is wrong. They don’t support that.

On Monday, during the Eagles’ virtual team meeting, Jackson gave such an impassioned speech about his own life and tribulations as a black man in the United States, that it motivated Kelce to speak up.

Kelce, one of the longest tenured players on the team, said he felt an obligation to post to social media after hearing Jackson’s message.  

“If I motivate him to step up and use his platform man, I appreciate that,” Jackson said. “At the end of the day, when I spoke, I spoke off of how I feel. I can’t change how my heart feels.” 

On Tuesday afternoon, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie released a statement of his own, saying he’s “repulsed” by racial injustice and vowing to use his platform to effect change. 

Lurie spoke to the entire team on Monday. His words and his statement meant a lot to Jackson. 

“You gotta think, the owners are billionaires. They have so much influence in the world,” Jackson said. “They have so much equity. They have so much power to where if they make a stance, the it’s gonna trickle down to the lower totem pole. I feel like a lot of times they go silent because it’s politics or they might lose this sponsor or they might look crazy in the light. But it’s like, none of that stuff can even come into your mind because we are dealing with people losing their lives. … 

“I feel like Jeffrey Lurie did a great job of speaking out and speaking up. Because I feel like if he does it, then you’re gonna have the rest of the other 31 owners and that’s going to trickle out to basketball owners, baseball owners. It has to be a trigger effect.”

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DeSean Jackson’s impassioned plea based on own experiences

DeSean Jackson’s impassioned plea based on own experiences

DeSean Jackson said he fears for his life every time he gets pulled over by police and said he understands the frustration the black community is experiencing today but also made an impassioned plea for unity and togetherness amid the violence, looting and hate.

In a powerful 30-minute interview with John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia, Jackson spoke bluntly about his own experiences with racism and his thoughts about how we as a country can move forward.

(Since I was) growing up as a kid, I can’t tell you anytime that I’m in the car and a police officer stops me or pulls me over how afraid I am that if I move wrong or I make a wrong gesture I might be shot and killed,” Jackson said. “It’s just built up so long of seeing senseless killings so it’s like every time I’m pulled over I’m afraid it might happen to me. And for me, I have three boys that I raised, and I can’t tell you how much I’m afraid for them to grow up in this world that we’re living in now. I have to protect them. I have to teach them on love and doing the right thing, but if you tell me that the people who are supposed to protect and serve us, they’re not serving and protecting us. I’ve seen a disturbing video where a lady was actually pulled over and she wasn’t African-American and the lady was frightened for her life. She was so scared. and the police officer was like, ‘You don’t have to worry about us killing you, we only kill black people.’

Just think being an African American person what that does to your mind. What that triggers. Every time you have an encounter. That’s why I’ve always felt the way I’ve felt that way about police. I can’t stand them. For so long we’ve always been messed with. If I’m driving a nice car and I get pulled over, for what? Excuse me, I’m not supposed to be driving this car? Oh, I look like I can’t afford this car? Why do I have to be profiled? … It’s crazy, man. I just feel bad for my kids they have to be raised in this era, man.

Jackson grew up in the Compton section of Los Angeles and said as bad as things were there, he’s even more scared now.

One hundred percent, man,” he said. “Growing up, police messed with us. Don’t get me wrong, they pulled you out of your car, they searched your car, they did all that stuff. But it’s a different fear I have now. The fear I had in the past was I have a chance of probably going to jail, I have a chance of them searching my car and planting some drugs or planting a gun. But now what I’m seeing is police killing. In the past five years or however many years it’s been, man, it’s hundreds and hundreds of killings. Senseless killings. I’m worried for my kids more than when I was growing up.

Jackson spoke about the high rate of crime and violence in black communities riddled by poverty, poor schools and chronic unemployment and how programs are needed to remedy the root of the problem.

“The opportunity is not there,” he said. “People are stuck in that zone that they’re in because we don’t have the opportunities. We don’t have our parents setting up mutual funds and money and investments for us so when we turn 18 we’re able to go out and start our own thing. We don’t have that. So that’s going to have people sitting in the hood and sitting in the corner store selling drugs and doing stuff and killing people because they have more than I have. It’s crazy. But that’s the issue that we’re dealing with. If we’re able to outreach and put programs in these (places) and develop a curriculum to help these kids out, you might not be able to save the whole world, but you might be able to save 100 lives, you might be able to save 200 lives. As long as you start somewhere. But right now we don’t have that.”

Jackson has always been active in the community, whether he was playing for the Eagles, Redskins or Buccaneers, and he said once he returns from Florida to Philadelphia he plans to be continue working to bring people together as much as possible.

“Don’t tear down the community,” he said. “Don’t destruct what we’ve built up so long to get to where we’re at now. Let’s figure out ways to come together, man. I just want to let everyone know I’m feeling the pain. I’m in pain. And were going to get through this. It might take time, but we’re going to get through it. Let’s do it together as one and everybody love. One love, one community, one race. We’re going to stick together for the better.”

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