Every week, Jim Schwartz sits down with a video compilation of all the mistakes the opposing quarterback has made.
This week was the Drew Brees mistake reel.
“I looked at his interception reel,” he said. “That was one. Didn't take us long to get through the sack and interception reel. His incompletions, didn't take us long to get through those.
“I mean, he's playing at an insane level right now.”
Brees, now 39 and in his 18th season, is off to the greatest nine-game start of any quarterback in NFL history, and the challenge Sunday afternoon will be enormous for an Eagles secondary that’s been dealing with injuries, inconsistency and late-game breakdowns all year.
Brees has completed 77.3 percent of his passes — by far the highest in NFL history after nine games — and his interception ratio — one in 304 pass attempts — is also best ever after nine games.
His 21 TDs are eighth-most at this point in a season and his 123.8 passer rating is third-highest.
He’s been sacked only nine times. He’s thrown only 69 incomplete passes.
He’s had a passer rating of 114 or higher in seven of nine games.
“When I was a kid, if a quarterback completed 50 percent of his passes, that was considered good,” Schwartz said. “If he had as many touchdown passes as interceptions, it was considered playing pretty good quarterback. Then it started becoming, you need to throw twice as many touchdowns as interceptions. Then you need to complete 60 percent of your passes. Now pretty much everybody is like near that 70 percent. He's close to 80. He's 77 point something. How about 21-1 touchdown-interception (ratio)? He's made those things the new standards. “
Schwartz is right.
As recently as 1993, only 19 quarterbacks in NFL history had ever completed 63 percent of their passes in a season.
This year the average completion percentage of the entire league is 65 percent.
And Brees is making a run at becoming the first 80 percent passer in history.
“Extremely accurate quarterback, smart, knows where to go with the ball,” Schwartz said. “Still has good mobility, can buy time. We certainly have our work cut out for us. He's got good players around him.
“They're also, I think, maybe lost in the fact that he's played at such a high level, they're a very good run team also. (Mark) Ingram, (Alvin) Kamara, doesn't matter who they hand the ball off to, they've been a consistent run team.
“Very good offensive line. There is a reason that they're the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL. … It’s a points business, and they're putting up points like nobody else.”
One other thought from Schwartz's presser Tuesday:
• The Eagles gave up 10 points in their fourth-quarter collapse against the Titans, 21 points in the fourth quarter against the Panthers and 14 more against the Cowboys on Sunday night.
Schwartz talked about the late-game collapses: “I think so many of those have come down to a play in a drive that we got a chance to get it stopped, and we haven't made the play. The theme of the fourth quarter is we need to finish, and we need to make the plays when they count. We haven't done that. That's why we're 4-5. Whether it was Carolina, whether it was last week, whatever week it is, we need to make those plays not just in the beginning of the game. We started some games pretty good. It doesn't matter, it's a 60-minute game.”
Schwartz doesn’t think his players are gassed at the end of games, but it sure looks like they are. Maybe the short offseason has been catching up with the defense late in games.
The absence of takeaways is certainly a factor. The Eagles have faced 223 fourth-quarter plays and they have just two fourth-quarter takeaways after recording 11 last year.
The Eagles also aren’t getting the same amount of pressure in the fourth quarter. They sacked Matt Ryan three times in the fourth quarter on opening day, but they have just three fourth-quarter sacks in six games since.
Whatever the reason, the Eagles' defense clearly isn't the same late in games.
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