By Peter Gleason
The Eagles historic defensive collapse last Sunday — giving up 21 points in the fourth quarter to lose a 21-17 game to the Panthers — seems to be no biggie to Eagle defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz:
“On each of those drives, it was like one play that we have to make, and we’ve had that at different times this year,” Schwartz told reporters. “Against the Titans we had just a couple chances to be able to get a play to stop a drive. We weren’t able to make it. We had a fourth and ten, have to make that. . . . There have been different times over the course of our years here that that’s happened. But we’ve always sort of picked them up and made a play somewhere else along the way; special teams made a play, offense made a play and then [with] this, we didn’t get that done. So that’s sort of where it was.”
One issue that possibly has affected the Eagles, according to Schwartz, is a tendency to try to create turnovers, which can in turn result in a missed tackle and a big play.
“I think there’s a fine line there, and you always warn the players, sometimes chasing takeaways, chasing turnovers, puts you in worse position,” Schwartz said. “You start giving up plays. Guys press too much. They go for the strip instead of the tackle and you give up a bigger play or they go for the interception instead of the [pass breakup] and you give up a big play or stuff like that. You’ve got to temper that.”
Schwartz continues to focus on the big picture.
“There are two things we can do as a defense,” Schwartz said. “One is hold the score down, and No. 2 is put our offense in position to score, or score ourselves, and that’s a thing that was a common theme for us last year that we haven’t really been able to get our feet under us this year in creating those game-changing plays.
“Before we gave up the fourth-and-ten play, I mean, we were a couple inches away from getting an interception. When [Panthers QB] Cam [Newton] throws the ball, he’s getting hit, it’s that close to stripping the ball. This is a game of inches. It doesn’t change the win or the loss, but that’s just what you have to do. We need to find a way to come up with those plays without pressing, without playing out of our character.”