After the Eagles' defense landed on a fourth-quarter fumble Sunday afternoon, the entire unit ran about 40 yards down the field and posed for the typical big-play flexing photo.
At the time, they were down 14 points with under 10 minutes to play.
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It rubbed some fans the wrong way.
I heard a couple players (Rodney McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins) on 94WIP Monday say they didn't really understand the criticism. They were just trying to inject some energy into the team and win the game. To be honest, I see both sides of it.
So on Tuesday, I asked defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz if he had a problem with celebrating in that situation. This was his answer:
I'm pretty old school. I'm old school when it comes to celebrations or music at practice. I probably got the biggest ‘get off my lawn' sign in the whole neighborhood. I grew up in Baltimore. Swag was Johnny Unitas with black high tops and a crew cut. That's the way I grew up.
"But I think you also have to set that scene. We had just taken the field after the fourth or fifth turnover, I don't remember what it was, there were 10 minutes left in the game. I think that's right around the scene right there. And if we give up a score right there, the game's pretty much over because it turns into a three-score game and it would probably be inside 8, 9 minutes. And that's a tough situation to be in. So we had a job to do. We had to go out on the field and get a stop. And not only get a stop, but the ability to get the ball back in that situation. We actually caused two fumbles in a row. And were able to get those and give our offense a chance.
"It didn't work out for us, but we ask our guys to go out on the field and play with some passion and play with some excitement. I don't know what the rulebook is when it comes to stuff like that, but I would certainly … from an old-school guy like me, I didn't have a problem with that.
"I mean, we expect them to go out on the field and be excited. I'd much rather have that headline be written about us, or that criticism, be out there about us than, whatever, ‘defense took the field dejected.' I like the resiliency our guys have shown in those situations. … I like the fact that the guys go out there and play passionate football and have an attitude to get a stop and a never-say-die attitude. I think of those as positives. I don't think of those as negatives.
That was a well-thought-out answer from Schwartz. And, to tell the truth, it doesn't really matter to me if guys celebrate when they're down two scores or not. I see why they would.
Still, I understand the optics. I understand why fans would be bothered by seeing their disappointing favorite team celebrate in a game it's losing.
But Schwartz is right. It beats the alternative. At least the defense is playing well and trying everything in its power to come back. If celebrating is a part of that, so be it.
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