Eagles Address Communication Issues: ‘Malcolm Doesn’t Play Here Anymore’

Malcolm Jenkins

Getty Malcolm Jenkins celebrates a play.

Let’s get one thing straight about the 2020 Eagles’ defense: Malcolm Jenkins doesn’t play here anymore.

That was the response from defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz when a reporter prefaced a question about communication in the secondary by mentioning the absence of Jenkins. Schwartz wasn’t being mean or malicious, but he felt compelled to say it out loud. Jenkins bolted for bigger bucks in New Orleans, causing the Eagles to reshape their starting safety tandem with Jalen Mills and Rodney McLeod. New year. New faces. New philosophy.

“Malcolm doesn’t play here anymore. We can’t judge anything on how he would have done in those situations,” Schwartz told reporters on Tuesday. “We have our guys this year. You don’t get graded on the curve because you got new guys out there or it’s the first game of the season or anything else.”

The situation Schwartz was referring to occurred on Washington’s first touchdown. Dwayne Haskins hit Logan Thomas on a six-yard dart at the end of the first half to cap a 45-yard scoring drive. There was a defensive breakdown after Jalen Mills put his hand up to call for help.

It never came. Avonte Maddox and Duke Riley were both left looking at each other as Thomas spiked the ball. Who’s fault was it? Schwartz put the blame on himself.

“It was blown coverage,” Schwartz said. “You’ve known me long enough that I don’t assign blame in the media. That’s a defensive breakdown. All defensive breakdowns go to the defensive coordinator.”

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Get Ready for the Darius Slay Effect

The Eagles’ new shutdown cornerback has forced Schwartz to change his mindset, too. Darius Slay traveled with Terry McLaurin around the formation, with Philly playing man-to-man coverage on roughly 50 snaps (out of 60). It marked a change of philosophy after the team relied on more zone coverages during the last two seasons. Call it the Slay Effect.

“We put a lot of pressure on him,” Schwartz said about McLaurin. “All our corners, playing that much man-to-man, put a lot of pressure on those guys. Didn’t give up a lot of big plays down the field, which I thought was encouraging.”

Slay held McLaurin to “two completions for about 28 yards or 26 yards,” per Schwartz. Eagles Insider Fran Duffy concluded McLaurin was limited to just one reception for 21 yards in man-to-man situations.

“Doesn’t change the result. Like I said, binary game,” Schwartz said. “You don’t get any bonus points for how one individual played or how one group played. But I was pleased with what he was able to do with some tough duty.”


Craig James, Vinny Curry Placed on IR

Special-teams ace Craig James and defensive end Vinny Curry were officially placed on injured reserve on Tuesday. Both players are eligible to return in three weeks. The Eagles filled one of those roster spots by signing guard Sua Opeta from the practice squad. Look for another corresponding move, perhaps Joe Ostman or (hopefully) Cordy Glenn.

Former Bengals tight end Jordan Franks takes Opeta’s spot on the practice squad. Defensive end Brandon Graham remains in the concussion protocol and his status for Sunday is up in the air. Lane Johnson is also considered day-to-day, although the starting right tackle recently told Derrick Gunn to “count on him” being out in Week 2. Here is that interview, as transcribed by NBC Sports Philadelphia:

Gunn: “Can we guarantee 100 percent that Lane Johnson will be out there against the Rams on Sunday?”

Johnson: “I’m gonna be out there, DGunn. I’m gonna be out there. So count on it.”

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