Eagles’ Schwartz on Derek Barnett: ‘He’s one of the toughest players I’ve ever been around’

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett battled his way through the Eagles’ 17-9 victory over the Cowboys last Sunday. The third-year player, who is dealing with an ankle injury, which he suffered in Week 13 against the Dolphins, missed two games before returning against Dallas.

While many had expected more out of the former first-round pick, who has 4.5 sacks this season, Barnett is drawing high praise from his defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz. 

“I can’t speak to his toughness because he’s one of the toughest players I’ve ever been around,” Schwartz said about Barnett on Tuesday. “The fact that he played the second half of that Miami game with that ankle just was really amazing to me — and to play as well as he did.

“I think he’s always been a guy that will lay it all on the line. He’s not the biggest guy in the world, not the fastest guy in the world, but he is one of the toughest guys in the world, and just brings such a presence when he’s on the field.

“It was an inspiration to me to get him back on the field, just knowing where he had come from and going through that whole week. We really didn’t know how much we were going to be able to get out of him.

“It got close to game time, and we really just treated it like he was any other player. Though we might have to have a pitch count, watch and see what things he could do and everything else, but he just went out and played well for us.

“We had a lot of guys play well. It was one of those games that — there are some games where you can point to one player. A guy will have three sacks, or a guy will make an interception, score, or something, and you can point to one player and say, ‘Yeah, that player had a lot to do with the win.’

“We had a lot of guys that contributed to this [win] just by doing their job. Nothing special. Nothing way out of bounds or whatever. We tackled well, communicated well, covered well, rushed well; we made very few mistakes in the game.

“I think when you keep a team out of the end zone, it’s not a mistake. It was all those guys together. Derek was a big part of that.”

The Eagles have struggled with injuries this season, and it got worse when they placed corner Ronald Darby on IR this week, but just like we saw in 2017 and 2018, the Eagles have found ways to fight through and continue to have success. 

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Schwartz: ‘Jalen(Mills) is playing at a high level all across the field’

Before the return of Philadelphia Eagles CB Jalen Mills, who was out with a foot injury since last October, a lot of people in Philadelphia wanted another Jalen, Jalen Ramsey. However, Ramsey was traded to the Rams, and the Eagles decided to go with what they had in the secondary. Quite frankly, it probably was the right move. 

While the Eagles lost to the Patriots 17-10 on Sunday, the defense played well, and with Mills and Ronald Darby healthy, the Eagles’ secondary has been stabilized. Before Mills, the Eagles’ defense was surrendering 24 points a game. In the four games Mills has played, the Eagles’ defense is giving up 18 points per game. It’s not all because of Mills, but his return has helped this team. 

“Jalen is playing at a high level all across the field,” Eagles DC Jim Schwartz said on Tuesday. “He’s tackling well; he’s covering well. He’s up to the challenge of covering guys, and he brings us a lot of spirit and a lot of competitiveness and toughness.

“I think you’ve seen the level of defensive play increase since he’s been back. He’s always been a respected member of our defense and a guy that the coaches and players both have a lot of confidence in. He was down for a while. He worked really hard to get back, and I think all that hard work is paying off for him. I’m really proud of him.”

Even when he was sidelined, according to Schwartz, Mills was still engaged.

“Jalen has never checked out,” Schwartz said. “So, you could say, yeah, it’s surprising because it’s a tough thing to do, but I also recognize all the work that he’s put into it, and it hasn’t just been sit around for a year waiting for it to come back. He’s been actively engaged in every one of our meetings and every one of our game plans. Even if he wasn’t playing, he sits right over there, and he’s into the game taking notes like if he was playing. And that’s paid off for him.

“We’ve had other players, not just Jalen, injured players, but we’ve had guys on the practice squad that have been that way, and generally the guys that succeed are the guys that stay ready, so they don’t have to get ready, and Jalen certainly personifies that.”

The Eagles are finally healthy on defense, and it is showing. They are getting after the quarterback and the secondary is playing well. Philadelphia won a Super Bowl with Darby and Mills on the outside, so those guys are just fine. 

Now, if the offense can join the party, maybe this team can get back to the playoffs in 2019. 

 

Eagles’ Schwartz on Allen: ‘He is running like a big man and running like a fullback’

After six games, the Buffalo Bills have proven that they are a pretty good football team. At 5-1, the Bills are behind the undefeated Patriots(7-0) for the top spot in the AFC East, and to Buffalo’s credit, they gave New England their toughest game of the season.

While the Bills’ defense has been leading the way for this team in 2019, they seemed to have found their franchise quarterback in Josh Allen, and although the second-year quarterback has not put up big numbers this season(1324 yards, 7 TDs, 7 INTs), he is doing enough to help Buffalo win games.

What he may lack in the passing game, Allen makes it up with his running ability, and last season as a rookie, Allen rushed for 631 yards and eight touchdowns.

Next Sunday, the Bills host the Philadelphia Eagles, and according to Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Allen is one of the better running quarterbacks in football.

“It’s not just his athleticism, it’s their willingness to run him on the football,” Schwartz said on Tuesday. “A lot gets made of the way [Panthers QB] Cam Newton played and the way that [Ravens QB] Lamar Jackson plays in Baltimore. Buffalo has sort of flown under the radar with that with a lot of designed quarterback runs. Stuff that looks like Wildcat, but he’s just running quarterback sweep, quarterback power, quarterback counter, quarterback draw, and he’s not sliding.

“He is running like a big man and running like a fullback, a lot of stuff that Cam Newton would do. They have all the RPOs. They have probably a more — complex really isn’t the best word I am looking for, but varied run game than any team we’ve faced. Some teams sort of take the approach of keep it simple, and we only do a couple things. These guys do an awful lot. They have powers, they have counters, they have stutters, they have zone runs, they have RPOs, they have jet sweeps, they have quarterback runs, and he’s a big part of those.

“And then you add into the equation his ability to extend plays and to run for first downs. I think that we have to be at our very best. It’s not just going to be covering guys. We have to play well in the run game, and then we also have to be good in our pass rush game to keep him from escaping or having step-up lanes and have guys in position to keep him from moving the chains.”

Allen is definitely a load. At 6’6, 237 pounds, he is not easy to tackle. However, if Allen really wants to make his mark in the league, he has to improve as a passer, which I think will come. For now, the Bills are 5-1, and judging by the way the Eagles have been playing of late, Buffalo has an excellent chance of moving to 6-1.

Schwartz on Jackson: ‘We’ll certainly miss him’

The Philadelphia Eagles have placed DT Malik Jackson on injured reserved, the team announced today, which will end his season. Jackson signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the Eagles this offseason, and according to the NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, Jackson suffered a Lisfranc injury on Sunday against the Redskins. The 29-year-old Jackson is expected to have surgery next week, according to the report.

To replace Jackson, Philadelphia announced today that they have signed DT Akeem Spence, who spent last season with the Miami Dolphins. The 27-year-old Spence was released by the Dolphins back in August.

Obviously, losing Jackson hurts, but according to Eagles DC Jim Schwartz, it’s next man up.

“Malik [Jackson] is an important part of what we do, and we’ll certainly miss him when he’s not on the field,” Schwartz said on Tuesday. “But we have plenty of guys that can step up and play. And that’s nothing new in the NFL, doesn’t change our task from game to game, and it doesn’t change our task over the course of the year.

“We’ll get him healthy and get him back. If I know Malik, he’ll do a good job staying engaged while he’s rehabbing. I’ve been really impressed with him as a professional, not just as a player, but as a professional, I’m sure you guys have too.”

With Jackson out, Timmy Jernigan will be a starter again at the defensive tackle spot, and considering how well Jernigan played for the Eagles in 2017, the Philadelphia does not lose much at the position. However, they do lose depth, which may hurt the team as the season moves on.

Eagles DC Jim Schwartz reflects on 2017 NFC Championship Game

The 2017 Philadelphia Eagles did something that many did not think was possible coming into that season, especially after starting QB Carson Wentz tore his ACL in Week 14 against the Rams. However, Nick Foles came off the bench and led the Eagles to a victory in Super Bowl 52 against the Patriots.

Before getting to the Super Bowl, the Eagles had a very magical run through the playoffs. In the Divisional Round, Philly beat the Falcons after stopping Atlanta on 4th and goal late in the game, which set up a battle against the Vikings, in the NFC Championship Game at Lincoln Financial Field.

In that game, then Vikings QB Case Keenum, who is now with the Redskins and will start Week 1 against the Eagles, led Minnesota to a touchdown on their opening drive. From there, it was all Philadelphia. The Eagles would go on to beat Minnesota 38-7 to advance to the Super Bowl.

On Monday, Eagles defensive coordinator, who led the defensive that season, reflected on the 2017 NFC Championship game.

“That just happened to be our day. That happened to be the City of Philadelphia’s day,” Schwartz said. “I think a lot of times the first half of that game is a little bit of a blur. I remember P-Rob [former Eagles CB and current Saints CB Patrick Robinson] making that interception and scoring and [DE] Derek Barnett getting the sack strip. Those were big plays.

“But honestly, the second half of that game moved in like slow motion and high-speed at the same time because it was obvious we were going to win the game. It was just really cool. It was sort of a party atmosphere the whole second half, and it was fun to be a part of that.

“Not every game comes down to the last minute. However you’ve got to win it, you’ve got to win it. But that game in the second half was really a special experience. But that doesn’t take anything away from [former Vikings QB and current Redskins QB] Case Keenum. He really had a great year that year, and we had to play really good defense to come out with that win, and we were able to.”

Schwartz and Eagles fans will never forget the 2017 NFC Championship Game.

Eagles DC Schwartz on Vinny Curry: ‘I think you’ll see big contributions from him’

In 2017, Eagles DE Vinny Curry was a big part of the team’s defensive line rotation, a rotation that helped Philadelphia win a Super Bowl that season, and after spending the first six seasons of his career in Philadelphia, Curry, 31, signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last offseason, and in 2018, he amassed 2.5 sacks in 12 games.

Now, he’s back in Philadelphia, on a one-year deal, and according to Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Curry should have a solid season for the team.

“Like I said, our defensive line is extremely important to us,” Schwartz said on Friday. “A guy I probably missed in that whole thing was [DE] Vinny Curry. I’m really excited to have Vinny back. He played a really strong role for us that Super Bowl year. Throughout the spring, he looked as good, if not better, than I’ve ever remembered him. I think you’ll see big contributions from him.”

The defensive line has been the strength of this Eagles defense under Schwartz. With Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, and Timmy Jernigan on the inside, and Derek Barnett, Brandon Graham, and Curry on the outside. Philly should be in decent shape on the defensive line this season.

“I say it all the time to our players: the defensive line is the engine that runs this defense,” Schwartz said. “Those guys embrace that. They know they have to set the tempo for our team being physical, swarm around the quarterback, chase the ball, all those different things.”

The Eagles like to rotate their defensive linemen, and Schwartz believes he has the talent to do so.

“We’ll have plenty of guys to rotate,” Schwartz said. “You know we prefer not to play anybody too many snaps up there so we can keep guys fresh and keep them going.”

While Curry may not be as good as the departed Michael Bennett or Chris Long, he is a guy that had played well in this scheme, which should bode well for the Eagles in 2019.

Schwartz on Sidney Jones: ‘It’s an important off-season, important training camp for him’

For Philadelphia Eagles CB Sidney Jones, 2019 is a big year and could be a make or break season. Entering his third season, Jones has yet to solidify himself as a consistent contributor for the Eagles.

Jones, who fell to the Eagles in the 2nd round of the 2017 NFL Draft because of a torn Achilles during his Pro Day, played in one game during the 2017 season and played in only nine games last season due to a hamstring injury. So far, he has not proven that he can stay healthy in the NFL, but fortunately for Jones, he has a chance to makes things right this season.

“(Jones)Battled some injuries early, then had some productive time on the field, and then battled injuries again and struggled through some times on the field,” Eagles DC Jim Schwartz said as the team goes through OTAs. “I think that’ll be an advantage for him going forward.

“It was a tough season for him, but he did experience some success. He saw some tough times. Persevered through it. Finished the year healthy even though he wasn’t really back on the field for us. It’s an important off-season, important training camp for him.”

The two corners that started for the Eagles last season, Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills, are coming off injuries, so there is an opportunity for Jones to have an impact with the team in 2019. Based on what he did in college, and based on some of the flashes he has shown with the Eagles, you can see why the Eagles drafted Jones where they did, but if he can’t stay healthy, it won’t matter.