Jim Schwartz says secondary must cover better in order for pass rush to get home

Ed Kracz

With all due respect to Washington’s wide receivers, there isn’t a Julio Jones among them.

Or a Mohamed Sanu, and probably not a Calvin Ridley, either.

There is certainly no tight end on the Redskins’ roster better than Austin Hooper, not when Jordan Reed doesn’t play, which seems to be more often than not lately.

So when Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said on Tuesday that his defense didn’t cover well against the Redskins on Sunday, well, that could easily send a shiver down the spine of any Eagles fan, because the Eagles are headed to Atlanta for a Sunday night game against the Falcons’ talented receiving corps, led, of course, by Jones.

VIDEO: Jim Schwartz on the struggles of his DBs against Redskins

Schwartz said that one of the reasons the pass rush was hard to find, especially in the first half was that the Redskins were “doing a lot of double chipping and I think that really what we needed to do was we needed to cover better to be able to get the pass rush home.”

Asked if he could pinpoint why the coverage wasn’t up to his expectations, Schwartz said: “They were all a little bit different. I think you have a tendency when you give up a play to get a little less aggressive in coverage and then we gave up some underneath things. But there (were) a lot of different things.”

One of those things, he said, wasn’t that the Eagles rotated their corners between Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones, and Ronald Darby. Darby, Schwartz said, wasn’t on a snap limit, and he played 48 snaps (72 percent), with Douglas getting the most with 56 (84 percent). Jones had 34 (51 percent).

Whatever it was, the Eagles' defense better find a way to play better on Sunday because Case Keenum torched them for 380 yards, completing 30 of 45 passes.

“Everybody always likes to have those games where everything's going right and you're doing the electric slide and everybody's into it and it feels great, but sometimes long-term it's better to have a game like we had and to look bad in the first half and to get booed off the field - and we deserved that,” said Schwartz. “I would have been booing too.”

Douglas was hung out to dry on the Redskins’ 69-yard touchdown throw from Keenum to Terry McLaurin that gave Washington a 17-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

Douglas manned up on Tuesday and said that was his fault and that he wasn’t expecting safety help over the top.

Schwartz, though, had called for a blitz on the play.

The secondary nearly got clipped again right after the Eagles went ahead 21-20 in the third quarter. On the Redskins’ first play from scrimmage after they fell behind, Keenum let it fly for McLaurin, who was again wide open. The ball sailed long.

Again, Schwartz said there was a blitz.

“Everybody always wants a blitz, but nobody likes when those deep balls go up against blitz,” said Schwartz.

“But, yeah, it was a very similar situation. We have to do a better job in coverage, a better job in pass rush and a little better in our overlapping coverage. We were lucky we didn't pay the price for that one.”

Now along comes Jones, who has had some of his most special days against the Eagles.

In six career games against the Birds, counting the playoffs, Jones has gone over 100 yards five times. In last year’s opener, he was targeted 19 times, catching 10 passes for 169 yards.

In two 2016 games, including the Divisional Round of the playoffs, Jones was targeted 32 times combined with 19 receptions for 236 yards. Interestingly, though, he hasn’t had a touchdown catch against the Eagles since 2015.

“You don’t stop a lot of top receivers, you just manage them,” said Douglas, who said he hasn’t played against Jones during his two seasons in the league.

“All the top receivers they usually get a lot of targets, so even if they get 15 targets and you stop them five times, you still didn’t stop him. He still caught 10 passes, that’s probably 100 yards right there. You just try to slow them down as much as you can.”