Defensive dominance was the calling card in Philadelphia for a long time. From Buddy Ryan to Jim Johnson, Gang Green was a cult.
Enter Doug Pederson. He won the Super Bowl by aggressively airing it out and resorting to timely trick plays. It worked and forged a new identity for the Eagles. But throwbacks are trendy right now. Good thing, Jim Schwartz loves nostalgia.
The old-school defensive coordinator has transformed the Eagles in his image. Schwartz’s defense has allowed 17 points or less in four consecutive games while giving up fewer than 225 passing yards in five straight games. The Eagles blitzed 14 times versus Seattle on Sunday and connected on six sacks to raise their season sack total to 31.
What’s the secret? Well, the catalyst may have been a simple motto.
“Our attitude all the time is ‘Do whatever it takes to win the game,'” said Schwartz. “Again, whether it’s 30 to 29 or whether it’s 7 to 3, just try to come out with a win.”
Perhaps the biggest area of encouragement has been in the secondary where the Eagles have jumped up from the rankings from the sixth-worst passing defense to the 19th-best. The communication on the backend was jumbled through the first eight weeks. It’s gotten better but it’s far from perfect. Schwartz sees room for improvement.
“We still have a long way to go,” Schwartz said. “I think that communication is important, and you have experienced players that are used to playing together. I think that makes a big difference.”
Final Score Only Thing That Matters for Eagles Defense
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has been notorious throughout his tenure in Philadelphia for drawing very few positives out of losses. When a reporter asked him how Nigel Bradham played against Seattle, the surly coach referenced the final score.
“17 to 9,” Schwartz told reporters. “It was nice to have him back out there, but we don’t take any other views of how we played other than the final score.”
It’s a common theme when talking to the defensive players in the locker room. They don’t care how they win as long as they are singing the fight song after 60 minutes. The Eagles didn’t get the job done Sunday against Seattle.
“However you win the game, it’s a matter of winning the game,” Schwartz said. “However you lose the game, you didn’t get the job done.”
‘Old-School’ Schwartz Fine with Elaborate Celebrations
The Eagles’ defense drew sharp criticism for racing down to the opposite end zone and celebrating a turnover despite being down by 14 points versus Seattle. Both Rodney McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins defended the elaborate and boisterous celebration after the game.
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz had no problem with the festivities.
“No, I’m pretty old school,” Schwartz said when asked if he had a problem with the celebration. “I’m old school when it comes to celebrations or music at practice. I probably have the biggest get-off-my-lawn sign in the whole neighborhood.”
In fact, Schwartz said he expects to always see that kind of passion out of his players. Especially after a big turnover late in the game, no matter the point-differential on the scoreboard.
“We expect them to go out on the field and be excited and play with some passion,” Schwartz said. “I would much rather have that headline be written about us or that criticism be out there about us than whatever, ‘Defense took the field dejected.’”
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