Jim Schwartz did not want to reflect on the 2020 season his defense had on Tuesday morning.
The defensive coordinator said he would until the season is over, which will be late Sunday night when the Eagles are done hosting the Washington Football Team, who will be trying to win the NFC East inside Lincoln Financial Field.
“We have a division opponent that's going to come and try to celebrate on our field,” said Schwartz. “We've got to have a no-hat rule this week. We can't let opponents put division-win hats on at the Linc. There's a lot of pride in that, and all our focus has to be to accomplish that this week.”
Every year since he arrived with head coach Doug Pederson in 2016, Schwartz said he would wait until the final game is over before talking to the media about the way his defense played during that year. Except he never does, and it’s not until spring when we hear from him again.
And with this season going the way it has, well, there’s a chance the Philadelphia media never talks to the DC again.
“We have a division opponent coming in that's trying to earn a playoff spot on our field, and we've got to have all of the attention on this game,” said Schwartz. “I've got too much respect for the guys that are going to be on the field, some of which are playing for the first time. I've got too much respect for the game to talk about anything other than this game, and I apologize for that, but that's where our focus is.”
Here are three takeaways from what may or may not have been Schwartz’s last go-round with Philly reporters:
1. The defense has allowed the last two opponents – the Cardinals and Cowboys – to pile up more than 500 yards of total offense. Schwartz was asked if that was a product of an undermanned defense or if there was something more to it.
He focused on why the Cowboys were able to do it, citing big plays, three of which went for more than 50 yards: catches from Amari Cooper (69 yards), Michael Gallup (55), and CeeDee Lamb (52).
“When you have all those 50- and 60-yard plays and even more than that in this game, that certainly goes a long way to having a lot of yards on the board,” said Schwartz. “We've never really concerned ourselves too much with yards. It's always been about points and things that affect points, third down, and red zone, and things like that.
“But I think if you do look at the yards in this game, it was a reflection of the big plays that we gave up. We were trying to put a fire out at one spot, we ended up causing a fire at another position. Sometimes we had too many fires, not enough hoses. But again, no excuses there. We have to figure out a way to figure it out.”
2. Obviously, Michael Jacquet struggled at cornerback before being benched early in the third quarter. Schwartz said he tried various things to help Jacquet because he was hesitant to move Jalen Mills from safety to corner, but eventually, Jacquet became too much of a liability.
“At halftime, we switched (Darius) Slay over to Gallup to try to get a little bit more help to M.J., but he was still struggling,” said the DC. “What I compare that to, it's a little bit like a pitcher. Sometimes you don't have your best stuff, and Skip (the manager) has got to go to the bullpen.”
Schwartz was hesitant to go to the ’pen because of what was there, which wasn’t a lot. He didn’t want to move Jalen Mills from safety to CB, but that was his only best option.
“I didn't want to because he was giving us a lot of solidity in the middle part of the field,” he said. “I thought Mills did an outstanding job of putting the fire out. I thought him and Slay at that point really started playing well on the outside part of the field.
“Now, we had our other issues that put more pressure on the safeties, and (Marcus) Epps got banged up a little bit early in the game. We started going with some different combinations back there. Communication wasn't the best. But we made a little run in the second half, mainly because of Slay and Mills.”
3. Slay had his first interception of the season and 20th of his career on Sunday. Despite the low number and some struggles against some of the NFL’s best receivers, Schwartz said Slay has been a great addition to the team.
“There were a lot of games that quarterbacks didn't throw very much at him, including this last game,’ said the DC. “…He's made some guys disappear. He's had a couple of games that he wasn't - he probably wasn't at the top of his game, but I think that more falls to the NFL and the load that we put on him and knowing that you're not going to pitch a shutout against great receivers every single week.
“He’s done yeoman's work when it comes to the things that we've asked him to do, and it doesn't always show up on the stat sheet.”
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