I know Jalen Mills has been everyone’s favorite whipping boy in the early stage of the season, but I think the real problem on the Eagles’ defense lies with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and some of the defensive playcalling that’s gone on.
Schwartz leans heavily on generating pressure with a four-man rush, and only uses blitzes sparingly. When the Eagles’ front four can’t get to the quarterback, this becomes a problem. Quarterbacks can sit back, wait for plays to develop, and pick a defense part under those circumstances.
The Eagles didn’t generate enough pressure on Marcus Mariota in critical moments of Sunday’s loss. On the fourth-down plays, Mariota had a clean pocket, no pressure, and was able to deliver cool and confident strikes.
I don’t know why, but Schwartz is just stubborn when it comes to sending additional pressure. This was a major reason why Tom Brady carved the Eagles’ defense up for over 500 yards in the Super Bowl. Brady hit on chunk play after chunk play over the course of the game, and the Eagles rarely sent anyone other than the defensive line after him.
Playing coverage didn’t work in that game, and Schwartz never adjusted. Fortunately, Nick Foles and the Eagles’ offense were more than up to the challenge on that day, and really masked an awful gameplan and poorly called game by Schwartz.
Jalen Mills, Corey Graham, and the other members of this defense have to step their individual games up, there’s no question about that. But Schwartz’s scheme and philosophy can really hurt this team in certain spots.
- What’s wrong with the offensive line? Hard to say. I don’t think Jason Peters is done. More likely its just taking him some time to round in to form. Keep in mind he’s coming back from a season-ending injury, and didn’t play at all in the preseason. It’s very likely he’s still working his way into top form.
- No doubt that pass protection has got to get better. Allowing Carson Wentz to get hit as much as he has is just unacceptable.
- Another part of the protection issues is that the Eagles really miss Darren Sproles and Corey Clement in that role. Sproles and Clement are the team’s top pass protection backs, and forcing Wendell Smallwood into that role is just asking for trouble.
- Smallwood is terrible at pass protection. It’s part of the reason he was the odd man out of the running back rotation after the team traded for Jay Ajayi last year.
- I know he got a sack on Sunday, but I really haven’t been impressed with the output of Michael Bennett through four games.
- As much as the Eagles have struggled in the passing game, give them credit for continuing to play fantastic against the run. Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis just couldn’t get much going on the ground.